As a leader, one of your responsibilities is to coach and develop your team. It’s up to you to encourage them to succeed and coach them to be excellent. Most of us, though, spend a disproportionate amount of our time with under producing employees. The most valuable members of our team function efficiently and quietly. Don’t overlook them. Develop them.
Who has the most potential in your organization? Start with looking at drive. The employee that arrives early and stays late generally has more passion and drive than the one that only gives minimum required effort. Leaders have passion. Employees with passion are potential leaders.
Someone once said “your attitude determines your altitude.” How true it is! Potential leaders have a positive attitude. They face new tasks and challenges with energy and optimism. Think about the people in your organization. Those that are known for their smile, their positive outlook, and their willingness to encourage others have the attitude of leadership.
Innovation and creativity are another indication of leadership ability. Leaders are willing to take risks and find new ways of meeting goals. The person on your team with the innovative idea or the creative approach is willing to step away from the norm and take a risk. She may be a potential leader.
Hopefully you’ve already thought of a few potential leaders on your team. As you read the previous section their faces sprung to your mind and you started to consider their abilities and aptitudes. Before you go too far, though, you have to determine motivation.
Drive is one thing, motivation is another. A future leader may have an abundance of drive, but does he have a vision for his own future? Some individuals are driven not out of a desire to lead but rather out of a willingness to serve. It’s important for you to distinguish between the two.
A future leader will have goals. He will have at least a general idea of the path he wants to follow. Start by asking why he enjoys working with you or for your organization and really listen to the answers. If he speaks about wanting to learn and improve his skills or about opportunities to advance in the industry you might have a future leader.
What about the employee you’ve identified who doesn’t have well defined goals? Is she still a leadership candidate? You’ll have to dig a little deeper. Perhaps you see something in her that she’s never recognized in herself. Share the potential you see and gauge her response. If she the idea of increased responsibility excites and energizes her, you have a potential leader.
Coach for Excellence
You’ve identified potential leaders in your organization and you’ve determined their motivation. Now it’s time to coach them, mentor them, and develop them.
- Excellence First: Start by focusing on excellence. Guide them toward excellence in their current role. Give open, honest feedback as to performance and opportunities to learn from mistakes. Encourage and reward improvement and personal success.
- Set Professional Development Goals: Discuss goals and goal setting. Set the goals together and offer additional training or mentoring opportunities to help your potential leader achieve them.
- Experience and Responsibility: Broaden the scope of experience and responsibility with leadership in mind. Want him to supervise a department someday? Have him chair a committee. Is her professional goal targeted toward project management? Make her responsible for a project and give her the freedom to learn by experience with guidance.
- Let Your People Create Their Own Fortunes: Ultimately, you are in a coaching role. The potential leaders around you must take advantage of the opportunity and make their own fortunes. Encourage them. Guide them. Don’t do it for them.