Natalie Lynch January 6, 2020 Leadership Development: Growing Talent Strategically Strong leaders don’t grow on trees, but they can be nurtured and grown inside your organization when given the opportunity and support to do so. Since the beginning of an industry, the practice of apprenticeship has been utilized as a method for ensuring that skilled artisans have replacements waiting in the wings for when they are no longer capable of practicing their art. This process eventually led to the formation of trade guilds specializing in training tomorrow’s master craftsmen. Unfortunately, this practice began to wane in popularity as industries moved towards mass production and companies became larger in response to modernization. However, the core essence of this succession practice remained, with many of today’s astute professionals utilizing methods inspired by the original apprentice system to ensure the future success of their organization. This process is known today as leadership development. What is Leadership Development? Leadership development is a process that is incorporated throughout the entire organization, identifying those with both the potential and interest for leadership, empowering those individuals to improve their skills, and providing them with opportunities for advancement. Effectively developing leaders within the organization allows companies to create future leaders who have a firm grasp on the company’s operations, culture, and mission and who have the skills to execute. Furthermore, hiring from within and providing avenues for advancement enhances a company’s ability to recruit and retain skilled professionals. When staff can see there is potential for upward mobility, they are inspired to prove their value. When they are rewarded for their efforts, company loyalty and investment soars. Leadership development makes finding future leaders easier and less expensive than hiring from outside by reducing friction caused by adjusting to change while also giving staff a reason to invest personally in the future of the organization. Keys for Successful Leadership Development There is no paint by numbers guide for how to best enact leadership development programs within your organization, but here are some tips that will help you get started on the path of creating your own leadership training program. Identify Potential Leaders Perhaps the most crucial aspect of effective leadership development strategies is identifying those who have the most potential to become great leaders. This is no simple task, as qualities that make a good leader aren’t exactly set in stone nor are they always immediately evident. One of the best ways for finding future leaders is by creating programs that people can opt into themselves. Without a strong desire to become a leader, most are likely to give up at the first sign of resistance. Encourage Mentorship Your existing leadership staff are the best people for training and inspiring new people to eventually take their place or at least share their burdens. Leadership may come naturally to some, but even those with a proclivity for it will run into bumps along the way. Providing guidance and real-life examples of how to deal with different circumstances will empower potential leaders with the knowledge and skills they’ll need in the future. A strong mentor can make all the difference when it comes to the development of leadership skills. Create Opportunities Trial by fire is a great way to weed out those who are unsuited for leadership while also providing invaluable experience to future leaders. Take advantage of those you have identified as potential leaders by creating temporary roles where they can hone their skills. Special project teams can be used as a chance to test out leadership capabilities without requiring a more long-term commitment like a promotion. Look for ways to give potential leaders a chance to prove themselves and then reward their successes while leveraging failures as learning experiences, not setbacks. Creating and implementing a leadership development program is no small task, but the value it can provide your organization in terms of employee engagement, enhanced recruiting potential, and long-term company health is well worth the investment. Contact us at Lynch Law today for more tips on leadership development or to ask any legal questions you might have.