It’s a competitive business world out there, and if you are still hiring followers and not leaders, then you are running the risk of falling behind. Why? Because companies that focus on hiring leaders vs followers are the companies that can scale, strategize, and allocate resources much more efficiently than others.
After all, having good leaders in every sector makes the job of the decision makers and the top brass in the company that much easier.
By hiring leaders and by promoting leadership in your organization, you are setting a winning culture for the entire collective, and you are allowing the natural-born leaders to achieve their professional goals.
Needless to say, this will help you keep the best of the best at your side over the long term.
So, how do you go about promoting leadership in your organization? What can you do to hire, identify, and nudge employees to become leaders?
Here’s what you need to know.
It starts with forward-thinking recruitment
When you have open positions at your company, your primary objective is to fill those roles with the right talent as quickly as possible.
Trying to find the right people for your open roles and what they entail at that moment is not the wrong approach, but it’s not the best way to build effective leaders down the road.
People grow into their leadership potential over time and with the right amount of support and guidance, but it is still imperative for the employer to recognize that potential during the recruiting process.
Whether you are handling recruitment in-house, outsourcing with RPO recruitment or using a third-party platform, you need to communicate your needs to your recruiters.
Identify your goals and OKRs
Defining your long-term goals and OKRs (objectives and key results) is the best way to further define your organization's leadership roles and requirements.
As a leader and a key decision-maker, you need to have a broader picture, vision, and goal for each department and team.
This is not something you can come up with a little creativity and brainstorming, it’s something you come to by acquiring the right data.
First, make sure to define realistic KPIs for all teams. Use industry benchmarks to set clear goals and OKRs for all departments. Then, start creating a leadership development plan by comparing that information with the kind of leaders you need in your organization.
This kind of reverse engineering will allow you to hire and train leaders for specific outcomes rather than hiring leaders who have no objectives, benchmarks, or overarching goals to strive towards.
Use employee recognition to your advantage
Employee recognition is a concept that too many business owners use because they have to, not because they realize its true potential.
Employee recognition is a broad concept that encompasses numerous tactics and methods you use to achieve numerous goals - not just make your employees feel appreciated and respected.
While that is extremely important, using rewards and recognition is also a way to identify and nurture the leaders in your organization. It’s also a way to observe your employees and approach leadership development from a psychological standpoint.
Say you have spotted someone in a team whom you believe might be leadership material. You can use various employee recognition tactics to see how they respond to praise. As a leader yourself, you know that true leaders achieve their results with the help of the collective.
Suppose the aspiring leader takes all the praise and recognition for themselves without making sure to highlight the expertise and invaluable contribution of others (even if it’s just a couple of key team members).
In that case, that is a clear red flag that this person cannot effectively lead their department in the long run. Remember, a true leader will take praise but also give credit where credit is due.
Build a leader persona for every team
Using all of the things we talked about today, industry data, benchmarks, and competitor research, you can start creating detailed leader personas for every team in your organization.
Your gut feeling about someone should also be a factor here, but you should not allow it to skew the data or go against key data points in your leader personas.
Developing a leader persona is a similar process to developing a buyer persona. Assuming that you have already created those, you can go ahead and apply the same mindset and methodology here.
Observe, test, and guide aspiring leaders
Finally, always remember that promoting and building leaders in an organization is an iterative process. It’s all about trial and error, optimization, and continuous improvement. In other words, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out on the first try.
In fact, you can’t truly know if someone will excel as a leader if you don’t put them in that position. With that in mind, the final step is to put them to the test.
Select your candidates, and start preparing them by seeing how they respond when you ask for their opinion on strategic matters, team management and communication, and culture.
You’re not there to criticize them or wait for them to make mistakes, you’re there to help them improve and uncover their leadership potential.
To that end, the goal should be to guide and optimize their thinking and processes to help them become effective leaders.
This will require you to be present and take a proactive approach during the testing and observation period, and to have regular one-on-ones with your candidates that will help them improve throughout.
At the end of that testing period, you will have a detailed log of all activities and insights you’ve generated about them, which will allow you to make the right final decision.
Over to you
Promoting leadership throughout your organization is an amazing way to show your employees how much you care for their professional development, and how much you’re focused on nurturing a winning culture in your teams. After all, every team wants and needs a good leader who will guide them, listen to their needs, and allow them to do their best work.
But hiring and building leaders is also beneficial for the top management and the company as a whole. If you want to surround yourself with leaders who can help you take your company in the right direction, then make sure to start implementing these tips as soon as possible.