Train Your Employees to Lead and Succeed

01/05/2017 10:19 am ET Updated Jan 17, 2017

Whether you’re running a small business or overseeing a major corporation, establishing leaders within your organization is a worthy goal. Prioritizing notable employees will ensure you have trustworthy staff members to assist in the growth of your company. The investment you make in your team can lead to improved employee engagement, morale and loyalty.

Creating a leadership culture is key. While it may be essential to concentrate your efforts on one singular worker who is ready for more responsibility, it’s just as important to encourage ongoing growth and development among all employees.

Follow these 7 tips to develop leaders within your business.

1. Learn to spot leadership potential. There are certain traits that are evident in future leaders: enthusiasm towards their job and company, a curiosity to learn and attention to detail. Watch for employees who ask questions and take an extra measure of pride in their work. Employees with bright futures also demonstrate a strong sense of duty and respect for little things, such as being on time and adhering to the dress code. These seemingly insignificant details become more significant as they progress as leaders and set an example for other employees.

2. Provide opportunities to take charge. The idea of leading others can be daunting for those with little experience doing so. Give employees a chance to flex their leadership muscles in low-risk situations, such as making a presentation at a staff meeting or heading a project. As their skills develop and they become more comfortable, let them conduct the entire staff meeting, then take a role in higher-level meetings as you gradually increase their scope of responsibility.

3. Emphasize the skills they need to succeed. Moving into a management role requires the ability to manage projects from beginning to end and the ability to delegate others and exemplify good communication skills, to name a few. Assign tasks that compel them to become proficient in these areas.

4. Expose them to a bigger view of your business. Employees with strong leadership potential are eager to learn more about the business and the industry. When coaching prospective leaders, introduce them to other parts of the business so they thoroughly understand the organization. Explain the inner workings and even politics of the company so they have a broader and clearer vision of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

5. Take them out of the office. Including young executives in client meetings, networking events and other out-of-office experiences allows them to see you in action. As you model how to navigate these situations, they’ll learn how you expect things to be done. Encourage them to network independently and meet new people instead of gravitating toward people they already know. The end goal is that, eventually, they’ll be able to represent you and your company on their own.

6. Encourage continuous learning. There are great ways to do this regardless of your training budget. If sending an employee out of the office for additional training isn’t possible, look for other ways to expose your future leaders to new ideas, such as online courses or starting a “book club” where you and your team read a book on leadership and discuss your findings. Even forwarding links to interesting articles will help expand knowledge among employees.

7. Develop yourself as a mentor. Commit yourself to being available to employees who are interested in advancing in their career. Effective mentoring requires a genuine interest in the success of the mentee. Be available for advice and support, and most of all to thoughtfully listen. Embracing the mindset as a teacher will help you connect with the future leaders in your business.

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