How to develop your future leaders

Not only is developing future leaders highly beneficial to business success, but it is also a valuable skill for managers to have. We’ve explored the benefits of nurturing people’s career growth and how to develop future leaders with a structured approach.

Why is it so important to develop future leaders?

Without effective practices for developing future leaders, your organisation loses out on the key skills of promising people. Priming your workforce for the future boosts employee engagement and retention. Having a clear vision is a proven motivator for people to stay in their roles and continuously improve both their own performance and that of the business.

Letting people stay stuck in their careers and become disillusioned is a wasted investment, as the invaluable experience of people you’ve already hired goes to waste. Instead, support people to set and meet professional goals. This will inspire them to strive for better business results, increasing productivity. It also boosts team morale. When colleagues see others rising through the ranks, it shows what’s possible and energises everyone to reach their potential.

In an article for HR magazine, Wendy Cartwright, former HR director at the Olympic Delivery Authority, called for managers to “build foundations early in executive education for our future leaders”.

If you’re wondering how to develop future leaders, the following advice highlights some of the most effective strategies.

Encourage wider business exposure 

Developing future leaders is helped by deepening people’s understanding of the different roles, objectives and processes within your organisation. Support your teams in growing their knowledge around all aspects of your business, by giving them opportunities to expand their responsibilities or implementing job rotation practices. Leaders make decisions that can shape an organisation and potentially affect all of its workers, so it is important that they are familiar with as many people’s day-to-day experiences as possible.

Give people more responsibility

Help people to increase their practical experience by delegating tasks that will provide new challenges. Not only will it reveal their capabilities to you when people take on bigger responsibilities, it will help them to develop new skills such as critical thinking and creativity. Knowing that others see their potential, and are willing to put their faith in them, will also improve employees’ confidence and their commitment to the organisation.

Try to embark on this process gradually to let people learn in a manageable way, helping their chances of success and avoiding mistakes that could set them back or impact the business. You can support people through these more advanced tasks and projects as needed without micromanaging, so that they have some level of essential guidance while still being able to prove their abilities.

Support managers in people development

When developing future leaders, it’s important for managers to be able to recognise potential. Educating supervisors, managers and other senior staff members about your company’s ideal leadership criteria will help familiarise them with the skills and qualities to look out for. This can vary according to the business but may include traits like emotional intelligence, good problem-solving, resilience, strategic thinking and strong communication.

Managers will also have to play their part in fostering talent. Train them to champion employees’ ideas, put trust in their approaches, show them respect and grow their confidence.

Mentoring and coaching

Your aspiring leaders need to feel that there is someone they can turn to for advice, guidance and support on a professional level. Mentorship schemes can be set up with senior employees, retired executives or relevant professionals in other companies. Developing a structured mentoring programme will help to determine the expectations around the relationships and improve their effectiveness. As an example, programmes that focus on coaching and mentoring others are vital for developing leadership skills.

Remember to give feedback

Without regular constructive feedback, your leadership development programme can fail before it starts. Schedule regular meetings to discuss people’s progress and hear their suggestions too. Feedback will help you to identify early on if there are any issues, or whether you need to make any changes to the way you’re approaching people’s development.

Let your future leaders know how they are performing. It motivates people to know that they are doing a good job, while knowing what they're doing right encourages them to keep moving forward in that area, so give credit where it is due. At the same time, discussing areas for improvement or further development will support their continued progression.

Implement reward schemes

Show future leaders that you recognise their achievements and reward them accordingly. This may take the form of increased pay, being given more responsibilities, taking on direct reports, a new job title, bonuses or other compensation. Additional days of annual leave, lifestyle discounts or company shares can all be attractive incentives.

Find out what motivates people and tailor your reward systems to suit them. However you reward them, your future leaders will appreciate the gestures and feel more committed to advancing the mission of your business.

For more insights into what perks, benefits and rewards you should be offering your employees download our recent eBook “Revamp your Employee Value Proposition: How to attract top talent to your business”.

What’s next?

Remember that leaders set the example for other senior roles, so review your own approach from time to time and ensure that you lead in the way you would wish to see others doing.

For more information on what makes a modern-day leader, check out our on-demand webinar ‘Leadership skills to navigate the new working world’. You can also browse further articles on developing future leaders, along with other useful employer advice from Michael Page.

For more bespoke advice on how Michael Page can help your business, get in touch today.

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