Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Cultivating an Environment of Healthy Leadership

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General George Douglas MacArthur once said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.” This is as true today as it was back then, and for a business in any industry to survive, it must have a management team that is in line with this sentiment. Whether your business is growing or you are filling the position of a retiring leader, your company will need others to step up and follow this same mantra.

 This is why you need to cultivate an environment of healthy leadership, so you can have employees in your organization rise to the challenge and help your business thrive. To do so, you will need to not only create a great impression as a current leader but also provide opportunities and training to others so they can follow in your footsteps. Let’s look at how to create this trail to leadership.

Set the Example

Before a leader can even begin to tell others how to become good managers, they need to set expectations for how they act and conduct business regularly. Many attributes make up a great leader. To understand them, you can look at famous leaders of the past. Nelson Mandela embodied courage and strived for change that he knew may not be popular but would transform things for the better. Jane Addams had an amazing sense of empathy as she worked with the poor and homeless. A sense of empathy is as equally important as the need to make tough decisions, and a good leader will balance both.

In addition to making business decisions, good leaders motivate their teams to excel on current tasks and ensure that they have the tools they need to be as effective and happy as possible. Communication is key for a great leader. In addition to motivation, managers should also have an open-door policy that encourages their team to come in if they have issues and speak candidly about struggles they are facing in their position. When they come to you, active listening is just as important as your verbal response. 

While most higher-ups understand that they are required to organize their team and keep operations running smoothly, many also need to understand the difference between being a leader and being a manager. While a manager takes care of the day-to-day duties, a leader looks to innovate and find ways to improve those tasks for the betterment of the business and their staff. On top of that, a servant leader actively works to help the agents under them grow and evolve within the company.

Create a Development Program

So, how can you help the people within your organization evolve into the leaders of tomorrow? You can begin by creating a leadership development program. This training should include direct instruction on routine management tasks such as filling out reports, going through the hiring process, and meeting work quotas, but it should also give candidates a chance to practice less tangible managerial traits like how to show empathy, motivate employees, and find ways to bring out their unused potential.

The best way to do this is to have the candidate sit with current leaders as part of a job rotation where they see what each manager does during the day and how they think outside of the box to help their agents thrive. Once they feel comfortable, the trainee can also fill in for their manager when they are away or manage their own team temporarily during a small project and see how they do and provide positive feedback.

Communication is key when training a future leader. The current manager should speak to the trainee throughout the training and get their feedback on the program, ask them about areas where they feel they are falling short, and provide suggestions for improvement. Treat them as an equal during the program. Have brainstorming sessions where the current manager aims to inspire the candidate to come up with ideas on how to improve the team and their performance. If any of the ideas sound good and will work for the betterment of the business, then have your staff try it out. This will give the candidate an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Provide Guidance on Applying for Leadership Positions

If a manager finds one of their employees to be a perfect fit for a leadership position, they can help them see the best chance of success by coaching and mentoring them on how to obtain that position. Some managers may be afraid of having their employees move onto a different role as it will create more work in hiring their replacement, but the true sign of a leader is someone who takes pride in seeing their employees succeed. 

For starters, you can help the interested agent with their resume, so they have the best chance of getting noticed when new leadership positions become available. When creating a leadership resume, they need to take off all obsolete skills and instead focus on cause and effect. So, if during their time as a non-manager, they recommended a new way of doing things that led to a benefit for the company, you would want to include that. A bullet point could read something like, “Recommended a new electronic system that reduced filing time by an hour per day.” A management resume should also include soft skills, such as that you are an “effective listener” or that you “combine empathy with motivation to increase efficiency on the team.” 

When a candidate is interested in applying for a leadership role, their current manager must remind them of what the title really entails. While it may lead to more money, there are also the less glamorous aspects of the job, such as providing negative performance reviews, giving write-ups for attendance issues, and the fact that you will have the success of the team, or lack thereof, riding on your back. If the employee understands all sides of management and expresses their love of the challenge when speaking to a prospective boss, it will go a long way.

Leadership is not always fun, but when done right, there is nothing more rewarding. When current managers exude confidence, compassion, and honesty while on the job, the team will notice and follow suit.

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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