By Lolly Daskal
Almost all successful organizations are grounded by a skillful and talented leadership team. But how can you ensure that your team leaders are hitting their full potential? If you want to get more out of your business, you have to get more out of your team. And that means investing in your leaders. Here are some of the most important ways you can make that happen:
Start with the right people. Make sure you’re hiring and promoting the right leaders. Take your time and be patient when you’re filling a leadership position. The better the fit, the better the performance.
Embrace diversity. Embrace all types of leadership styles and diversity of background, thought and opinions. Different people bring different ideas, and diversity is key to creativity and innovation—so make sure to give your organization that strategic advantage. We’re naturally drawn to people who think like us, but a team of people who all think the same way is just an echo chamber. Challenge your leadership with people who challenge your thinking.
Set smart and achievable goals. Success begins with meaningful goals. Follow the SMART criteria with your team leaders: work with them to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Goals should be clear and easy to understand, with objective performance targets.
Trust your team to be independent and accountable. Trust your leaders to handle their responsibilities in their own way—and encourage them to empower their own people with that same trust. A leader who extends trust gets a team that is supportive, collaborative and positive. On the other hand, a toxic or oppressive team can drag down the performance of even the best leader.
Invest in your team’s professional growth. Show your team how important they are to the organization by investing in leadership training and coaching. A well-designed professional development program will give your leaders the experience, knowledge and insights they need to perform at their best. Good leaders are constantly working to improve themselves, so feed that instinct by encouraging ongoing training and development. It’s a relatively a small investment that can lead to huge returns.
Promote from within. Establishing a norm of promoting people from within is one of the best ways to motivate people and foster a high level of performance. And it pays off in other ways as well: people who have come up through the ranks already know the company and culture well. They tend to be deeply committed, and seeing them move up inspires others.
Acknowledge your best leaders. Pay attention to the leaders in your organization who are performing their best, making a difference and setting a strong example. Express your appreciation often and reward them in ways that are meaningful to them—it doesn’t have to be monetary.
Lead from within: If you want the best leadership team, work on finding and cultivating the right people and giving them what they need to succeed.