I hear it quite often. “We need leaders in this organization” or “I need people that are problem solvers, organized, and can engender respect and inspire others to get results”.
If your organization has been in operation for a while, there is likely another challenge you are facing. The current leaders in the business are approaching retirement. This creates a gap – a leadership gap. My observation has been that most young people, even college graduates, are not equipped with leadership skills and critical thinking. The ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing; an attitude of responsibility and ownership; the ability to solve problems; the skill to ask good questions, to listen, and then confront; the integrity to elicit respect from others; the work ethic to follow through and get things done; the willingness to lead by example; providing selfless service. I think you would agree that such traits are uncommon.
So what can you do about it?
First, improve your leadership. Leaders inspire leaders. Commit to being an effective leader yourself. Leaders are readers. Be a lifetime learner. Leaders are critical thinkers. Challenge mediocrity and the status quo in your own life and organization. Leaders are insatiably curious. Ask harder questions. Then empathetically listen, understand, and realize you can’t do it by yourself. The most effective leaders know they don’t know it all. They understand the power of team. Such leaders work on drawing out the best from others. Ruthlessly attack problems, and encourage people. Step one is committing to your own growth and personal discipline.
Second, reach out to the individuals within your sphere of influence. Prioritize building trusting relationships with specific individuals that demonstrate potential. Note their raw talent and tell them what you see. Offer to help them develop those talents. Gain their permission to provide feedback and challenge mediocrity. Ask them challenging questions. Model empathetic listening. Challenge them to confront mediocrity and pursue excellence. Inspire them to try new and uncomfortable projects. Quit solving their problems, and show them how to solve problems. Create a culture of high performance, engagement, and accountability.
Third, institute a formal program of leadership development. Where do people learn how to lead? Most not at home. Rarely at school. Few seek it on their own. As their employer, you can provide a life-changing opportunity for your people to maximize their potential. To do so, you must be intentional and focused. It is not just offering information. It is providing an environment for personal transformation. Becoming a leader is a mind shift. It is personal reinvention. I can help you with this. This is my passion, to teach and coach others to lead. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of me helping you and your organization fill your leadership gap, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s my passion and calling.