Wouldn’t it be great if your team members were willing and able to lead? It’s by no means a far-fetched idea. You can have a team of employees who are all willing to show initiative and to make bold decisions. It’s simply a matter of creating the right organizational culture. Specifically, you’ll want to build a company culture in which your team members can all develop effective leadership skills.
The question is how? How can you encourage the people who work for you to hone effective leadership skills? Let me offer you a few suggestions.
Help Your Team Members Hone Effective Leadership Skills
1) Remember, you’re their example.
When you’re the “boss,” that means team members will always be watching to see how you act, how you communicate, and what habits you maintain. Be mindful that you’re always being scrutinized. Be mindful of the types of effective leadership skills and routines you’d like your team members to form and exemplify them in your own day-to-day activities.
2) Recognize your team members’ strengths.
Or, to put it differently, try not to do too many things on your own. Instead, seek employees to participate in each project. Be attentive to the ways in which each employee shines and invite that employee to use their unique strengths whenever possible. One of the best ways to help your employees develop effective leadership skills is to involve them in processes and give them confidence that they can contribute meaningfully.
3) Empower your employees to make decisions.
Leaders are able to make meaningful decisions… so it stands to reason that if you want your team members to develop effective leadership skills, you need to put them into positions where they get to call the shots. Look for opportunities to allow your employees to exert some autonomy and to make good, informed decisions without you micromanaging them.
4) Give your team members some additional responsibilities.
If you have team members who really seem like they are going above and beyond their written job descriptions, and who seem like they are eager to contribute to the team in additional ways, why not give them the opportunity? Ask them if they would like to take on some new responsibilities, along with some new forms of accountability. Make sure your employees realize that being a person of leadership, authority, and influence also means taking on additional duties!
Helping your team members develop effective leadership skills will require you to provide them with additional responsibilities, decision-making power, and chances to try new things. Sometimes, that’s going to mean that your employees fail. Nevertheless, it’s vital to show that you trust them and want to see them grow and develop as leaders. That means stepping back and avoiding micromanagement whenever possible.
6) Talk about the future.
Another way you can help your employees cultivate effective leadership skills is to show them what paths are available to them. Do they have opportunities to grow into positions of greater influence and authority, whether at your company or elsewhere? What specific skills will they need to work on in order to progress their careers? Be willing to initiate some of these long-term, career-oriented discussions with your employees, showing them where effective leadership skills may take them.
7) Push people.
Generally speaking, team members aren’t going to learn or grow or develop skills of any kind if they feel stagnant. Be on the lookout for employees who seem like they’re on auto-pilot and look for ways to push them beyond their typical, day-to-day comfort zones just a little.
8) Show some respect.
One of the hallmarks of leaders is that they command the respect of colleagues and peers. You can help your team members feel like leaders, perhaps encouraging them to brush up on their skills and abilities, by treating them with respect. What do I mean by that specifically? Not yelling or screaming or belittling; but mostly, just being mindful to treat them the way you yourself would want to be treated.
9) Offer praise and affirmation.
All of us like to be recognized for good work, and to have our achievements made known. When you see your team members accomplish something special, don’t hesitate to boast about it! Let them know you’re proud of them, or simply that you see their good efforts and are thankful for them. This can help motivate them to keep pushing, and it may also give them just the jolt of confidence they really need.
10) Discourage fearful thinking.
Finally, I’d argue that the best way to develop new leaders is to inspire them. That means you shouldn’t lead from a position of fear. Your team members shouldn’t be afraid of what will happen if they propose an outside-the-box idea, or if they disagree with you about something. Instead, create an organizational culture where people feel free to speak their minds.