How to Build Leadership from Within

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When looking for senior leaders in your organization, do you look internally or externally to fill those roles? While external leaders can shake things up by bringing new ideas to the table, there is great value in looking to your existing team for senior positions– that is if you’ve prepped them for the transition. With the right training and mentorship, your next CMO could come through the ranks. Room for growth is often cited as a major interest for up and coming employees, and it’s a great opportunity for leaders to capitalize on this interest. Here’s how to organically develop your next leaders within your organization.

Assign additional responsibilities

Survey your current workforce and look for those going above and beyond. If you notice an individual who possesses a natural ability to lead, start the conversation early. Let them know that you’ve noticed their work ethic and would like to bring them in on different aspects of the operation. Explain the advancement opportunity it may provide and that you want to support their development. Providing this context is important so that the employee understands the value of the opportunity, instead of viewing it as a burden.

Practice leadership through mentorship

Being a leader is more than the title, and it’s not a skill that comes naturally to all. A great way to assess if employees are right for the role is to put them in mentorship positions. Your new hires are able to receive guidance from someone who knows the ins and outs of their position, and the mentor is able to “try on” leadership in a controlled setting. Be sure to check in with both parties individually to ensure both are getting value from the partnership.

Proactively check in

Remember back to when you were first given a taste of leadership. It was probably exciting yet intimidating. Chances are, your future leaders feel similarly, so make yourself available for support. This could take the form of a weekly conversation, formal meeting, or more casual coffee chats. Communication within the organization is important, especially in context with employees transitioning to roles with bigger responsibilities. Use this time to provide helpful pointers, support, and meaningful connections. Further, encourage your employee to speak openly about their experience, as they will be better able to adapt into the role when they feel supported by their leader.

The takeaway: Building leadership from within your organization

Think of your existing workforce as a garden that you’re harvesting. It takes time, but when done well, it’s worth the effort. Great produce comes from nurturing and investing in your crops– same goes for employees. If growing your organization is a priority, take a look at your current team. See who stands out and seek them out to support their development in your company. As building leadership from within becomes part of your culture, your team will recognize that you are committed to bettering your people. In return, this gives them the motivation to work harder, as they see firsthand that outstanding employees are not just valued, they are rewarded. 

If you’re interested in this topic, read about the benefits of applying this concept to all employees, and not just those primed for promotion: How a Culture of Leadership at ALL Levels Will Help Your Team Take Gold

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