What could be more important to your company’s future than choosing and cultivating its future leaders?
Whether you’re the CEO presiding over hundreds of employees or the founder of a small but growing business, your success hinges on consistently getting superior results from yourself and your team.
Why, then, is leadership development so often overlooked? The answer lies somewhere in our own understanding of what it means to be the boss. Have you seen or experienced situations like these experienced by Nick?:
- “Louis was an amazing technician. He understood all of our customers’ equipment, was a top-notch troubleshooter, and our customers loved him. As the Service Department grew, it seemed only logical to make Louis the Manager. In a few short months, Louis was overwhelmed, the technicians were frustrated, and customers were complaining that equipment downtime was out of control.”
- “Charles had been a loyal employee for more than 18 years. He rose through the ranks all the way to Vice President. We trusted him completely and so did our customers. He was able to teach employees all the technical aspects of their jobs. But Charles had trouble with high employee turnover. He wasn’t able to build an accountable workforce and constantly had to hire replacements for employees who grew frustrated and quit or who acted out their frustration and had to be fired. Eventually, Charles quit too over his growing frustration with the situation.”
- “Liz was a phenomenal dispatcher. She was respected by the men in the field and by customers alike. She had superior communication skills and could always work out a solution that satisfied customers and service staff alike. As the department grew, we made Liz the supervisor and also put her in charge of Service scheduling, billing, timekeeping and the like. She seemed to do really well at first but as the demands of the job grew, the people around her began complaining about her performance and lack of communication. Her department lost confidence in her and we had to let her go.”
Louis, Charles and Liz were all super employees who were promoted to supervisor and beyond—roles that rely on getting work done through the efforts of others rather than through their own technical efforts. Nick overlooked this important distinction and failed to provide any leadership development for his high-potential employees. In fact, Nick himself never took the time to develop his own leadership skills. He relied on the “managing” skills he observed and adopted over the years and it’s been costing him more every year.
This stems, to some extent, from a common belief among owners and CEOs that, because we’re the boss, we must be the source of all decisions and direction. This creates bottlenecks, frustration, and dissatisfaction among employees, management, and customers alike. By simply acknowledging that we can learn to be more effective leaders, the company can begin making great strides toward reaching its ultimate potential.
And, by developing leadership skills of high-potential employees, we address one of the critical elements required for creating a company that can sustain itself, grow, and prosper while decreasing its dependence on the boss for everything.
Skilled leaders have never been more critical to the success of companies than they are today. Not because employees can’t function without direction, but because effective leaders play a vital role in talent management. Good leaders attract top candidates, drive performance, engagement and retention, and play a key role in maximizing each employee’s contribution to the firm. Poor leaders, by contrast, are a drag on all of the above. They cost your firm a ton of money in turnover costs and missed opportunities for employee contribution, and they do more damage than you realize.
What to do about it.
1. Sharpen your own leadership skills first so you can effectively lead your own team to greater success.
2. Develop your existing key employees so they can wow customers and help others be more effective.
3. Develop your high-potential employees so that you have the needed bench strength to handle growth and whatever curves business life throws your way.
Click here to have a conversation about developing the leaders in your company.