Identifying and developing the next generation of managers and leaders is an essential task for business success, and developing homegrown talent is the most responsible approach. It’s not only far more cost effective than sourcing externally, it also ensures that the culture of the business and strategic direction remains an integral part of operations for the long term.
However, recognising those that are ready to take on a more senior management role, or that have the potential to be great leaders is no easy task.
High performing employees don’t always find the transition into a management role that straightforward and a successful manager may need to learn a totally different skill set and approach in order to become a successful leader.
The difference between managers and leaders
In order to put our employees on the right development path, it is important that we first understand the difference between a manager and a leader.
I often get asked, “how is management really that different from leadership?” Well the answer is “very” and here’s how, along with the skills you need to succeed in both roles:
- A leader must create a vision and clearly articulate this to their organisation. The management team should then be able to interpret that vision and implement the structure and process to deliver it.
- A leader should win followers. A manager should create hard working employees.
- A leader must be able to use their imagination to see what is truly possible. A manager should look to identify the specific work necessary to make it a reality.
- A leader should have the ability to ‘think outside the box’ and create change, whereas a manager should more often than not focus on facts and figures to analyse, drive performance and manage change.
- A leader should have charisma to engage their organisation in their vision. A manager should then model the way and lead by example.
- A leader must be prepared to sometimes take ‘strategic risks’ and take responsibility for the results. A manager should show discipline by working to a plan and should take credit when that plan succeeds.
- A leader must have confidence in the vision they have created for the business. A manager must believe that the part they play is critical to the success of the overall strategy.
- A leader empowers their people. A manager will exercise power to keep their team on track.
Invest in your company’s future
Once you have identified who in your business has the potential to become a leader, or move on to a more senior management role, the next step is to develop your talent.
Patience is required to coach and mentor them and to help them learn from the mistakes they will undoubtedly make along the way, trust will be required to delegate responsibility to them and to gain their loyalty, and investment will be required in training them to ensure they have the skills necessary to succeed.
Is there such a thing as a ‘born leader’? I am sure there is, but for most of us the the leaders and managers in our businesses have to be developed.
Developing your own highly skilled managers and leaders who are aligned to your company values and culture is not only rewarding, but if you get it right will deliver huge improvements in key areas across your organisation, including:
- Greater staff retention
- Reduced recruitment costs
- Improved employee engagement
- Increased growth and profitability