What Support Does an Emerging Leader Need to Succeed?
Over the last 20+ years working as a performance and business coach I’ve met many a young person who has been earmarked for a future leadership position within a particular company.
Many of those have been family businesses and one could build a case that this type of organisation makes it easier for the owners to invest in their people because the future leaders are likely to be flesh and blood.
I don’t want to spend too much time debating the validity of that from a data and research point of view.
However, based on my experience there is certainly a strong element of truth in it, especially when you consider the difficulty of retaining key staff in today’s business climate.
That difficulty can easily turn into reluctance when it comes to business owners being prepared to invest in leadership development and in some cases any form of training at all.
Irrespective of these challenges, the principles around support remain substantially the same.
I like to define the type of support emerging leaders require into three buckets:
- Training to close skill gaps and improve competencies and confidence. These would be around both ‘hard’ and ‘soft skills’ like EQ.
- Coaching to help that person get the best out of themselves and their team.
- Mentoring to provide specific knowledge, wisdom and assistance from a more experienced business person who has quite often ‘been there and done that.’
I then find it useful to determine the specific training, coaching, and mentoring required across the four holistic areas that support overall performance. Those areas are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Types of management support required for emerging leaders:
1. Physical (meaning the level of resources and support required):
- Essure there are enough resources, tools, technology, and other supports to accommodate normal workloads.
- Create a working environment that makes it conducive to productivity and sustainable working relationships.
- There is a structured emerging leaders training and development program in place that has the full backing of company leaders.
2. Emotional (meaning strategies to improve emotional well-being, engagement, and coping skills):
- Let emerging leaders know that management always has their back even when things don’t always go to plan. Ensure words and intent are followed by consistent actions including rallying around when they need support.
- Provide training and support around resilience, mental toughness, assertiveness, and communication skills as required.
- Support the decisions that emerging leaders make within the business. When those decisions do not turn out well, counsel and provide a rationale as to why things did not work out and coach them through any required changes.
- Provide coaching and/or mentoring support and allow that person to be an objective yet compassionate sounding board for advice.
3. Mental (meaning strategies to improve and increase mental capacity, cognitive abilities, and decision-making skills):
- Provide training in core skills of management and leadership in order to build their capacity and capability to execute with increased levels of confidence.
- Provide guidance and wisdom when it comes to complex problem-solving, judgement and making decisions under uncertainty.
- Provide coaching skills for managers training aimed at maximizing their ability to increase the intrinsic motivation of their team to willingly perform at their best at all times.
4. Spiritual (meaning connecting to the higher purpose of company vision, culture, and values):
- Assist them to understand and embrace the company’s way and why, in terms of vision, purpose, culture, and values. Relatable stories and experiences demonstrate how they actually impact day-to-day thinking and decision-making.
- Train, coach, and mentor on how to get alignment amongst their team with the above.
- Train, coach, and mentor on how to view performance management as embracing the holistic view of people meaning physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
A final thought:
One of the challenges of emerging leadership and its support strategies is to actually create a plan that makes it meaningful and relevant to the individuals in question. Not all external standardized leadership programs do this even though their content may be good.
To be truly effective in my view that plan needs to be tailored specifically to what the individual needs are, matched to that of the company.
That alignment of purpose needs to take place from day one so both parties are on the same page. With that in place, the specific support required from management can be identified and implemented as part of the overall emerging leader’s development plan. That’s precisely what I do in the programs we run and would encourage others to do the same.