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The Alternative Board Blog

How to Develop Employees into Leaders

Mar. 30, 2016 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
employees into leaders

Effective employees are employees who value their roles beyond their paycheck. They’re committed to the company’s vision and pushing those goals forward. The company’s wins are their wins, and they approach each task as if they were the entrepreneur of their own department.

Unless they’ve started their own business in the past, there’s a good chance your brand new employees (especially the entry level ones) won’t know what it means to take charge. It’s up to you, as a leader, to foster a sense of ownership in them.

Do employees have to be managers to be leaders?

“Anyone can be a leader,” says Bob Dodge, Senior Vice President of The Alternative Board - Denver West. “One does not have to be a manager to be a leader, and they are not mutually exclusive.”

According to Dodge, a successful company exhibits a combination of both. “Managers manage (plan, organize, measure, implement and adjust). Leaders lead people, by being consistently visible, communicating their passion and commitment to a particular cause, vision, initiative or project, while being careful to learn why people might not follow.”

How do you turn employees into leaders?

According to Mike Wright, Partner and Certified Facilitator at The Alternative Board of Greater Portland, “you need to instill in them a sense of responsibility for others.” If they’re in a management role, that means holding them accountable for their subordinates. If they don’t directly manage others, it’s important to translate how their work affects “the company, their fellow team members, the customers, and their community” says Wright.

It seems Wright is on to something. According to The Alternative Board’s April 2015 Business Pulse Survey, business owners who are committed to “positively contributing to society” are more optimistic, exhibit stronger personal vision, and outperform their competition. The same holds true for employees who are socially-driven.

How do you foster leadership-style thinking among your team?

According to Wright, effective leadership begins from the top down. It’s up to you, as the leader, to model leadership behavior for your team. Demonstrate good leadership behavior, and your management team will naturally pick it up. Wright defines good leadership behavior as:

  1. Providing positive communications of future success
  2. Instilling a sense of responsibility for/to each other
  3. Communicating and reinforcing team achievements.

Dodge recommends leaders foster these behaviors by modeling, mentoring and reinforcing these habits. “If we want people to follow, we need leaders. We can delegate management, but we cannot delegate leadership.”

Want additional insight? Read 9 Tips for Motivating Your Employees now 

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What's the importance of encouraging this kind of thinking across your company?

Wright sees a hierarchy of leaders as a catalyst for “ever increasing achievements at all levels of a company.”

“With an absence of single threading issues and decisions, there is rapid aligned response to issues at all levels.”

One of the most important functions of leadership is to develop new business opportunities. “Delegating ownership to others frees those above to focus on the path to future success” says Wright.

How do you manage entrepreneurial-minded employees?

John Meetz President of The Alternative Board South Central Kansas stresses the importance of defining your employee’s authority limits. “The best way to develop employees to be loyal, responsible and accountable is to throw away job descriptions and start communicating with them about their roles, responsibilities and expectations,” says Meetz. “This approach raises their stature in the business, because the owner and employee both have to think rather than deal as task managers and task doers. Employees own their own destination, whether or not that includes managing a team.”

Superstar employees feel like the CEOs of their position. They seek out new opportunities and find solutions to the obstacles in their way. This prevents them from getting stuck in unproductive routines and helps to avoid burnout.

If you’d like to learn more about what it means to be a transformative leader, The Alternative Board can help. Our executive peer advisory model brings together business owners in non-competing industries to help each other become better leaders. Learn more about how TAB can help you better manage employees while growing your business by contacting a local board.

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

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Written by The Alternative Board Worldwide

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