Former President, John F. Kennedy, once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”[i] Today, those insightful words still hold true. The best leaders aren’t just continually learning, they are sharing their knowledge and inspiring others. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said “Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about growing others.”[ii] One of the best decisions today’s workplace leaders can make is to identify, develop, and encourage new leaders. The best place to seek out those potential leaders is from within the organization.
Identify Emerging Leaders
Identifying emerging leaders within an organization isn’t always easy. Being able to spot intangible qualities like “leadership potential” is something that many aren’t prepared to do. However, there are some characteristics that can be observed. Characteristics to look for in potential leaders are those employees who are strong communicators, team-players, who embrace change, take initiative, strive to achieve, are problem solvers, and are driven.
There are many other characteristics that make for a strong potential leader, but those previously discussed are easier to identify. There are many tools available to help you spot potential candidates with those inherent intrinsic qualities. Many organizations are using online assessments, simulations, web-based games and exercises that measure an employee’s skills and competencies to determine leadership potential.[iii]
Develop Emerging Leaders
Once potential leaders are identified, it’s important that they are encouraged and those essential leadership soft skills are developed. Emerging leaders should be mentored on how to effectively communicate, grasp operational agility, practice elements of decision-making, learn how to deal with difficult situations, and how to deal with ambiguity. Through mentorship, employees may also discover other areas of strength which will add to their success as an effective leader.
Another benefit of providing leadership development within an organization is for potential incoming talent. Research shows that emerging market talent want to work for organizations that have a talent-centric culture. This lets potential hires know that they are critical to the success of the company and that hard work will be recognized and rewarded.[iv] It also creates a pipeline with a diverse mix of high-performing professionals within the organization.
Supporting Emerging Leaders
Every good leader and every great emerging leader can benefit from continual support. There are many ways to support this undertaking. By providing ongoing support, such as Leadership Training, Soft Skills Training, Effective Communication Training, Conflict Resolution Training, Diversity and Inclusion Training, or Implicit Bias Training, employees then have the opportunity to learn, execute, learn, and grow.
Another way to support emerging leaders is by providing desk-side coaching. In general, coaching provides employees with real-time guidance that allows them to make decisions and become more skillful in key leadership practices. A coach will also be able to provide valuable feedback and help shine a light on areas they hope to strengthen.
Emerging leader development is a process and one that is at the forefront of many executives’ minds. When over 500 executives were asked to rank their top 3 human-capital priorities, almost two-thirds of the respondents identified Leadership Development as their number one concern.[v]
[i] “John F. Kennedy Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_f_kennedy_130752
[ii] Kim, Larry. “100 Inspirational Quotes from Successful Business Leaders.” Medium, Augmenting Humanity, 1 Dec. 2017, medium.com/marketing-and-entrepreneurship/100-inspirational-quotes-from-successful-business-leaders-878451953878
[iii] Person. “Identifying Emerging Leaders.” SHRM, SHRM, 11 Apr. 2018, www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0416/pages/identifying-emerging-leaders.aspx
[iv] Freifeld, Lorri. “Talent Acquisition, Development, and Retention in Emerging Markets.” Training Magazine, 22 Oct. 2013, trainingmag.com/content/talent-acquisition-development-and-retention-emerging-markets/
[v] Gurdjian, Pierre, et al. “Why Leadership-Development Programs Fail.” McKinsey & Company, http://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/why-leadership-development-programs-fail