When I was in the Fortune 500 world, I saw people promoted to a leadership role because they were an excellent individual worker. This tactic often meant miserable consequences for all involved.
Read that again.
Being great at a non-leadership position doesn’t mean people know how to be leaders…but they can learn.
Great news! So, who’s going to teach them? Well, YOU are. Leadership is largely learned so what kind of leader do you want in your company, your community, and in the world? As a leader yourself, you have an opportunity to step into the power of your position and teach others. Let’s get to it!
Leading By Example is a Great Start
The ‘Do what I say, not what I do,” approach doesn’t work. People emulate what they experience, even when they don’t necessarily want to because they often don’t know what else to do. When you have new leaders in your company, model how you want them to act and be sure those actions align with your values. If there’s a misalignment, everyone will feel it and those new leaders you have won’t know what do to with that mismatch. You’re human and will make mistakes so those are great opportunities to show how to handle them by acknowledging them directly and openly discussing what you wish you would have done.
Leading by example is not enough by itself.
Share Your Decision-Making Process
Giving someone a leadership title doesn’t mean they’re going to know how to make leader-level decisions right off the bat. It’s important that you discuss your process and include them in the decisions you’re working on. Ask questions! Sharing a process doesn’t mean it’s gotta be a lecture series. Present the situation with the various facts and considerations and ask your leaders what they’d do. Have open, non-judgmental discussions with additional questions and then share your final decision. If you’re open, you never know what you might learn from them!
There’s still another piece to the teaching puzzle.
Turn Mistakes into Lessons
New leaders need opportunities to put their skills into action. It’s important to provide opportunities for leaders to lead and make decisions. At first, the decisions may need oversight by you or a leadership team. As your leaders’ skills develop, so can their autonomy. With that said, expect mistakes. Heck, you still make mistakes and so will others-and some of them will be big. It’s critical that you express concerns and disappointment in a respectful way that allow everyone to learn and move forward with grace. Taking situations over or lecturing (there’s that word again) people will destroy confidence and make them question their critical thinking skills. Those are outcomes that, if consistent, will create weak, mediocre leaders who will require a ton of your time and attention.
If I had a magic wand, I’d share it. The reality is, new leaders in your organization will mean a lot of teaching hours for you. The end result will be well worth it because you’ll have folks who execute according to the shared values and inspire others to be their best.