What does a cricket coach, a company CEO, a politician and a school principal have in common? Well, they influence people. This broadly defines leadership
, which is a social process that is pivotal in roles that require directing or guiding members of any organization towards an end or a task.
"I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." — Ralph Nader.
Leadership, or more importantly, effective leadership forms the essential mechanism of organizational culture. Simply put, businesses stay relevant and profitable in dynamic economic environment and turbulence because of leadership decision and management decisions.
Here, we understand that management and leadership is not entirely synonymous. Managers aim to enforce strategies, decisions as well as refine the product or service and find solutions.
However, leaders aim at weaving the entire organization with a single thread. They deal with morale building, competitive positioning and employee competence. In essence, they relate the work culture in context with the organization’s principles and values.
Now, as we establish the significance of good leaders and effective leadership, the question of "How to identify leaders in our organization?" arises.
Leadership is not necessarily a genetic trait or even a position but instead leadership skills and competence is acquired
as a behavior. Leaders are creative, responsible and accountable. Ideal leaders just not tell people what to do, they empower people, they construct a community at every level and hierarchy. Therefore, a simple means of identifying leaders is to look for people who excel at their jobs, are accountable and problem-solvers. People with lead roles in social circles are too proven to be effective leaders. A small percentage also fit the 'born leaders' criterion who prove to be a valuable asset to the organization.
As we have established that leadership is not an inherent trait but rather an acquired skillset, why not focus on fostering or rather developing your very own leaders. We concur that not only are good leaders instrumental to long-term organizational success, but It is also their duty to pass on their knowledge and cultivate new leaders in their organizations.
Companies which invest internally to develop employees in effective leaders often garner a competitive advantage over industry peers and yet organizations often overlook it or undertake leadership development in a haphazard fashion. Tackling this, we bring forth exactly how to cultivate new leaders:
1. Educate and train employees
Organizations like Microsoft, Oracle and Google have been using this method for years now. The idea is to constantly provide employees with the education and hands-on training needed to become a leader. This could be accomplished by webinars, conferences or courses. Evidently, the size of the firm influences this program given big data firms such as Oracle can establish the 'Oracle University' however smaller firms usually can rely on more informal methods.
2. Challenge employees
Another method is to challenge with employees by assigning them unfamiliar tasks. It’s an effective way to push and test their skill levels. Some businesses provide employees with leadership or 'power' positions to see how they act and what new skills can they acquire. This also improves confidence and employee loyalty. A more formal method is called rotating positions
, where employees are constantly shifted to different teams and roles to improve motivation and skills.
3. Develop Your High Potential Employees
As we challenge our employees, it also becomes important to construe which employees perform well and which employees have significantly higher potential. People with high potential can be developed into excellent leaders who drive their teams rather well in future. This gives benefit of surplus human resource in addition to already top performing individuals.
4. Use Data as a Tool
Traditional practices such as IQ tests, Personality tests were being used in organizations for decades thus this proven method is vital in understanding employee perceptions. Newer tests such as Myers-Briggs, Enneagram along with performance data can be utilized for a holistic assessment.
5. Inspire employees to be passionate
Ideal leaders are passionate people, they inspire their teams and people around them. Thus, networking with such leaders in long-term helps employees to foster passion and grow which in-turn becomes primary business drivers.
Moreover, HR professionals are often pivotal in the developing leadership strategy and programs and its implémentation. Thus, HR professionals should tailor such programs with all the aspects of their organizations to facilitate and address future leadership demands.