5 Ways to Best Identify and Cultivate Leaders
A few things have been going through my mind recently: Football, Leadership and Performance Management. While these three topics sound disjointed, hang on for the ride – there is a touchdown at the end of this!
Obviously, I have been thinking about football with the Super Bowl happening this upcoming weekend. Over the past week and half, various media outlets have been covering and dissecting every detail of the game, personalities involved, and other areas that might impact the game (such as deflated footballs).
While listening to the pundits describe every nuance of the title match, it got me thinking about why people have a love affair with the game of football. Throughout its history, football has some really inspirational leaders and motivators (Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, and Bill Belichick to name a few) who understand how to get the most out of their respective “employees”. Employees who are at the summit of their potential and who produce results at a high level. At Helios HR, we are just like head coaches trying to get the most out of our “players” (companies we consult for). Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. But really special things start happening when a player listens to a coach and vice versa.
Specifically, how to identify and cultivate talent for leadership positions. There are a few ways in which your organization can take steps right now to identify and cultivate talent for leadership positions within your organization:
1) Ask your employees what they want out of their career – as I have mentioned in previous blog articles, having candid discussions with your direct reports about their future goals and career aspirations takes a lot of guess work out of “Is Jane/John ready for this promotion?”. Instead of asking that, you should be first asking “Does Jane/John really want this promotion?”
2) Jointly create a leadership path using SMART Goals – One best practice we employ with our clients at Helios are creating SMART goals for all employees. SMART goals is an acronym meaning goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Having goals that are SMART allows for tangible and worthwhile measures of performance that benefit both the employer and employee. In the context of leadership, SMART goals provide a tangible path toward a leadership position in your organization.
3) Create a Performance Management Program that is easy and impactful – sometimes less is more. Your organization doesn’t have to create a fancy performance management program, but it should create a program that allows for employees to understand their performance during the review period, were they meeting expectations and what is the path forward so they can continue having success with your organization.
4) Follow up with your employees throughout the year – excellent managers don’t wait until the end of the performance review cycle to find out how much progress has been made on an employees' SMART goals. Excellent managers take time each week, month or quarter to sit down and have at least a 30 minute discussion of how the employee is trending on their goals for the year. Not only should this discussion circle around how the employee is progressing, but also what adjustments need to be made as business and personal objectives change.
5) Re-assess for next steps – this means sitting down with your management team, and your human resources representative, to determine if your employee has made significant progress in their own development of their leadership goals. Is your employee a better fit for a leadership role than they were at the beginning of the review period or since they started with the organization? If you can answer in the affirmative, your employee may be ready to take on additional leadership duties within your company.
Cultivating leaders at your organization doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It does take a concerted effort from both the impacted employee and the manager overseeing that individual to create a path for that person so they can be successful once they are in a leadership role. Not being a success in a leadership role can set a company and an individual career back – neither of which is wanted from an employer or employee perspective.