The age old thought that great leaders are inherently born with superior leadership skills is one of great debate. Although I do believe that there are individuals that are more gifted and natural than others when it comes to being in charge, I am also of the belief that great leadership skills can be taught, embraced, and embedded into our DNA.
Now let me start, in all transparency, by saying that we are not all created equally but we do have the ability to learn, adapt, and CHANGE.
I do want to emphasize the word CHANGE because great leaders have the ability to change based upon their environment and the needs of the business and their teams. So how are great leaders developed?? Well, that is what many have asked and many have accomplished but I believe there are three main elements to identifying and developing future leaders.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Leaders that have the ability to close their lips and open their ears have a much better chance of being embraced by peers and subordinates due to the fact that they are willing to learn from all angles. Even more importantly, leaders that are good listeners will inevitably build connections and foster a collaborative environment throughout an organization. Identifying this skill and helping individuals enhance this piece of their brand is vital to personal development because listening gives a leader an opportunity to assess, connect, and ultimately execute at the highest level. So when developing that future manager, check to see if their ears are open and continue to put them in situations in which listening is paramount.
HOW MANY PENALTIES FLAGS HAVE THEY ACCUMULATED?
Identifying leaders that are not afraid to make mistakes is also very important to their development. We all want people running businesses or organizations that are not afraid to make a decision and act on it! With that comes mistakes and by far that is the best arena for learning. You see, if a leader is comfortable acting on a strategic concept or decision that may not pan out, that individual is creating a road map and a cache of problem solving skills. Helping leaders build on the skill set of making mistakes is difficult but necessary because someone who is courageous enough to own their mistakes, move on and learn from them is a leader that will be followed.
GOT IT COACH!
Most great leaders understand that they could never do their jobs alone or specifically, without a great mentor or coach. This is a tough one at times because ego can definitely get in the way here and it does with everyone at some point and time. But this is not about identifying leaders that need mentoring all the time, this should be about identifying future leaders that are ready to embrace being vulnerable enough to learn new concepts from another person that is supporting their success. If someone is willing to be open themselves up to explore possibilities via a mentor or coach that behavior and culture will resonate throughout an organization and continue to generate fresh ideas and open dialogue.
So, once again, great leaders can be built if we are willing to invest the TIME and focus to do so. I believe that the investment in TIME to build and develop leaders for the future is an investment we should all be willing to make.