Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Before being elected president, Herbert Hoover seemed like an ideal candidate with an impressive resume. He was responsible for providing food and aid to Belgium after World War I, led the Food Administration, and was a trusted advisor in the president’s cabinet.
But despite his accomplishments and abilities, he lacked the core leadership qualities needed to inspire the country through and out of the Great Depression. People remember him as a president that was cold and disconnected.
It’s estimated that approximately 40% of new leaders don’t work out because they are not prepared or equipped to function as effective leaders. That’s frustrating for teams who might spend months looking for an ideal candidate, only to have them fall through on their duties.
Finding the right leadership team costs every organization time and money. When you finally pick someone to step into a role, you want to be as sure as possible that they’ll take the position and run with it.
The question is, how do you guard against a failure of new leadership?
Leadership Skills Executives Should Focus On
Often, organizations focus on head hunting as a primary means of finding and selecting new leaders. But that process is timely and expensive and the reality is, the most successful leaders are frequently found within an organization.
The best way to find leaders in your organization? Make a commitment to developing new leaders at every turn.
As you work to train new leaders, consider these skills and training exercises that will help you identify and hone in on the abilities of your star players.
1. Setting Priorities
New leaders are easily overwhelmed with a new set of responsibilities and scared to speak up out of fear of looking incapable. Train fresh-faced leaders by communicating your expectations clearly and frequently.
2. Communicating Progress
Leaders celebrate success, but they also divulge failures, one of the hardest things for new leaders to stomach. But the reality is, communication is critical. Executive teams must make it clear to new leaders that upward communication is vital to their success and that of the organization.
Veteran leaders who display these communication skills and exercise transparency pave the way for future leaders who will mirror those instincts.
3. Planning and Forecasting
Great leaders are always one step ahead —not because they have a crystal ball, but because they work diligently to understand what’s going on around them. And, they make critical decisions based on those observations.
Leaders who demonstrate what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why they’re doing it a certain way showcase the process they want others to follow. When future leaders see that breakdown again and again, they start to learn the skills needed to turn insight into foresight.
Along with these skills, executives must take an active role in recognizing the potential of new leaders and empowering them to become all-stars.
For example, if an analyst is incredible with numbers but has no experience managing people, give them the resources to lead a small team. If a human resources administrator is beloved by their colleagues but unfamiliar with finances, allow them to lead a project with the accounting team.
One of the greatest myths of leadership is that people are born leaders or they aren’t. The truth is, great leaders are developed, honed, supported, and driven by those who go before them.
Developing your next leaders is something that takes daily commitment and an incredible work culture that inspires your team members to do their very best. Start doing the work of transforming your company culture by downloading our free workbook.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.