Creating Leaders in the Early Stages of Employment
When you look at any team-orientated environment, particularly business, leaders play a pivotal role in the successful implementation and delivery of company goals and objectives. But what happens when a Manager, Director or Managing Director leave the business? Should an organisation turn to outsourcing a new leader who may have very little prior knowledge regarding the businesses’ organisational structure? Or would hiring internally be more beneficial in terms of facilitating a fluid and faster transitional period?
With a growing multigenerational workforce and ageing population, many organisations will face the challenge of developing leaders who demonstrate flexibility and the ability to consistently innovate, all whilst seamlessly adapting to the rapidly changing nature of business, technology and market drivers. It is for this reason that training and developing leaders should begin from the onset of employment in order to improve the chances of sustaining a long and prosperous future for your business.
When starting within any organisation, particularly for younger workers, their role predominantly revolves around acting as a contributor to the company, whereby tasks are assigned to be completed within a given timeframe. From this, employees are given the opportunity to develop key working values including punctuality, reliability and delivering professional content.
Through the role of a contributor, employees can demonstrate in their early stages, the ability to adopt company standards, handle responsibility and add real value to the business. These learned characteristics can provide the initial framework for moulding employees into future management material.
Employers should look to gradually increase each employee’s level of responsibility, dependent on their capabilities and passion for progressing further within the organisation. This is often a crucial stage for employers and employees alike, as it helps determine which employees have the potential to lead the business into future success.
A natural progression for an employee who has demonstrated a proficiency in self-management is for the employer to challenge the employee further by making them responsible for a project. As contributor, employees can become comfortable within tasks where they have found success, which is why becoming a manager, with all its uncertainties can be such a daunting proposition.
Becoming responsible for a project, is, in effect where the employee begins to take on a management type role, but without actually fully accepting the requirements that come with the title. This is an essential transitional stage whereby the employee is given the opportunity to learn through experiences, thus making a behavioural transition from contributor to manager.
Management need to demonstrate masterful people skills, which include both the ability to collaborate successfully with others and to take command of projects, delegating work and tasks strategically. Project managing will help determine whether an employee is socially adept enough to work alongside a variety of personalities, whilst getting the best out of people to achieve the objectives at hand.
Handing over the reigns
During the other two stages of employment, employees will have someone more senior overseeing and checking in with their progression on a project. At some point however, employees need to put in a position where they must take responsibility and make the important decisions themselves. It’s almost like taking the training wheels of their bike and allowing them to navigate down the path, trusting that their experiences thus far will aid them in making the right choices.
Whist employees are never truly left to their own devices, the proverbial ball is in their court with regards to feeding back their progress during critical stages in a projects timeline. They should be made aware of the fact that help is at hand should they need it, but it is also a chance to determine whether the knowledge and experience they have acquired throughout their employment has prepared them for the challenges attributed with being a leader.
This is often a real test of character, in that it will assess the employee’s ability to communicate and interact with stakeholders from all levels, to be resourceful, decisive and rise up from any setbacks they may face. Additionally, it will establish whether they can put the needs of the business above the needs of their own, looking beyond what their job description dictates and considering the strategic issues that affect the business as a whole.
The end of the beginning
This is by no means an exhaustive guide on how an employee can jump from contributor to leader in just a few fateful steps, but rather a thought-provoking look into how employers can encourage their employees to take their raw natural ability and enhance it through training and experiential learning.
Being brilliant in your field isn’t enough to make you a successful leader. It requires more than knowledge about a particular field, but rather an ability to marry a desire to push oneself, to engage successfully with others and to immerse themselves in the values of the organisation in question.