Don't worry, I.C.E. is a positive thing! This month marked a huge benchmark to success for my company. For the first time in what may be our organizations history, we promoted seven people at one time, under one roof top!
To see one of my core purposes fulfilled in such a way was extremely rewarding. Consistent business from great marketing, great products, customer satisfaction, and highly motivated purpose-driven employees created the perfect storm. This storm was the need for more leadership, management and sales staff. This need could only be fulfilled in one way: a massive promotion from within! A win for the company, a win for the employees and a win for our clients.
I am proud of our accomplishment, but this article is to help you with a simple process for crafting your very own, home-grown leaders. By following this simple 3 step strategy, I.C.E. we created to build and upgrade our management team, you too can discover and grow such leadership. With a large sales staff, all with their own unique abilities, individual strengths and weaknesses, how do you decide who is the right person for the job? How do you turn good followers into leaders? Follow the three steps below to answer these very critical questions and develop your company's leadership of tomorrow, in other words Identify, Cultivate and Empower your managers.
Step 1: Identify the Potential Leaders
First, you must identify who could be potential leaders. Ask yourself, what qualities are most important for a leader in your organization? Who has the majority or all of the qualities you listed? Of the qualities the candidates are missing, can they be taught, trained or coached on these missing characteristics?
For My Business, We Wanted The Following Traits:
- Understanding of the Sale Process
- Five Star Customer Satisfaction
- Clean, Correct and Timely Paperwork
- Highly Trainable and Coachable
- A Good Follower, yet Confident and Autonomous
- Selfless Service: Putting Coworkers and Company Needs First
Once we identified who had the traits above and who didn’t, it was easy to determine who deserved the opportunities presented.
Step 2: Cultivate Their Leadership Skills
[blockquote-left]Before your home-grown leader is ready to take charge, it is important you train and coach them first.[/blockquote-left]Coach your would-be leaders, one on one, knee to knee. By doing this you will determine why they do what they do, and what gets them out of bed in the morning. Once you discover this, you can recruit them by aligning both your efforts.
Let them know, "Steve, what I want for you most, is to reach your desired level of career satisfaction. Based on what you told me in our coaching session, more responsibility and growth is important to you. I want to help you get there and there are some new opportunities on the horizon that will open up soon. Are you open to discussing these new roles and responsibilities now and how you can best serve your company?" For more information on this type of enrollment statement, read “Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions” by Keith Rosen.
We decided to utilize our in-house Training Program I had created and written about in an article this past September, to give the potential leaders practice at training peers. This is a volunteer program and no one was required to train their peers. However, the people that wanted to be leaders, stepped up and acted like leaders. The people we had identified above took the initiative and with little or no resistance, began training their peers to great effect!
Next, we allow them to shadow the manager in the role above them so they can follow a crawl, walk, run process to taking over the role in the future. Don’t make the mistake of promoting someone, then throw their unprepared mind to the wolves. Set them up for success by cultivating their job and leadership skills.
Lastly, ensure they are comfortable in their new role prior to starting. No new position is ever 100% easy and I believe you have to stretch people's comfort zones to help them grow. However, ensure you build their confidence by testing their mettle, new skills and abilities. Are they proficient enough to do the job? Are they willing to do the job? Ask them how you may best support them in their new role. Ask their peers to show grace and understanding while they get their feet wet learning their new job.
Step 3: Empower Your New Leaders
Now that your budding, home-grown leader or leaders have been selected and carefully developed, it’s time to empower them. Let your staff know why they have been given this opportunity. This will create drive among your team members who did not get promoted this time. It will also let those team members know what expectations they may not have met in order to make the cut. This gives the unselected team members opportunity to improve and grow as well. Ensure everyone knows the expectations and job description of the new roles for each promoted staff member. People cannot meet expectations they do not know exist!
Let the promoted individuals speak in front of the team. Have them answer the following questions:
- How will you try to best serve your team in your new role?
- What expectations do you have of your new staff members?
- What goals will you work to accomplish in your new role?
- How can your team best support you in this?
- How open to feedback, and constructive criticism from your team members are you?
- How do you prefer to receive this feedback?
Ensure everyone knows the chain of command, pecking order and who answers to whom. Let your team know what's in it for them in these new changes. This will alleviate fear and anxiety, as well as feelings of doubt or dissatisfaction among the entire team when changes like this occur.
You too have fresh, undiscovered leadership talent starting to sprout within your organization. The next great company leader or executive could be ready for photosynthesis right under your feet. Always be looking for the traits that matter for your company's leaders in your direct reports. Once you find them, cultivate their leadership skills with training and coaching to help them grow and bud. Lastly, set them up for pure success by empowering them and enrolling your team in the changes. If you follow this three-step method, your company will be better off for it and your team will love you for it. You will make a positive change in the lives of your employees, while at the same time you will help your company grow! These are both very rewarding events for a leader, ones that you will be proud to have accomplished well into your golden years.