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How to develop your future leaders

It’s crucial for the success of your organisation to ensure you’re actively encouraging and supporting the development of your future leaders and implementing a strategy that inspires progression. Identify those in your business who have the skills, ambition and capability to drive your teams and start providing the stepping stones that will enable them to become great future leaders. The following advice highlights some of the key strategies in leadership development.

Business acumen

Your future leaders need to be able to fully appreciate all aspects of your business and gain a broad knowledge of your industry at present as well as the future directions for your industry and your organisation. This is essential learning for any future business manager who may one day make the decisions that shape your organisation.

Exposure to different teams

Leadership development works if your future leaders understand and experience the different roles of the employees in your organisation. They will one day make decisions that may affect them so it is important that they develop an understanding from differing perspectives.

Challenging environments

Involve your future leaders in real business situations that will test their abilities as they attempt to solve or overcome these issues. Giving them challenging projects will reveal their capabilities and capacities as well as develop their critical thinking skills and creativity. It will also improve their confidence and this goes a long way to enhancing their commitment to the organisation.

Maintaining support networks

As an employer, you have a responsibility to support all employees especially in the case of leadership development. The decisions they make to solve issues may not be your ideal course of action yet supporting your future leaders demonstrates trust and respect.

Mentoring programmes

Your aspiring leaders need to feel that there is someone they can turn to for advice, guidance and support on a professional level. Allocate senior employees within your organisation, non-executive directors or relevant professionals in other companies who are willing to mentor. Often overlooked, coaching and mentoring programmes will prove useful in developing your future leaders.

Providing feedback

Without regular constructive feedback to employees, your leadership development programme can fail before it starts. Let your future leaders know how they are performing. They will be eager to find out if they are doing a good job and if there are any areas for improvement or further development. Feedback will also help you to identify early on if there are any issues or if you need to make any changes to the pace or structure of their development.

Rewarding hard work

Make sure you recognise your future leaders’ achievements and growth throughout the leadership development process and reward them accordingly. This may be in the form of performance goals, the challenge of further responsibility, a new job title, financial incentives and compensation or even a greater stake in the company’s future or the company itself. Ensure you know what motivates them and tailor your reward system to reflect this. However you reward them, your future leaders will appreciate the gestures and feel more motivated and committed to sharing in the vision of your organisation.
And remember, as a leader yourself you are the best example to follow for the role so review your own approach from time to time to ensure you lead by example.
Browse further articles on leadership development and other useful employer advice from Michael Page.