How to Turn Employees Into Leaders

By Sarah Landrum

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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When talent is recognized in the workplace, it is to be nurtured, and while this mindset addresses the fact that leadership skills can be learned, it also points out that these skills cannot be learned on your own. It requires a deliberate effort from those at the top to turn employees into leaders.

Most managers were employees at some time in their careers and didn’t progress or find upward mobility by chance – they showed ambition and a willingness to take calculated risks. However, these are not necessarily the traits of natural-born leaders.

A Formula for Managerial Success

Consultant and former chief learning executive Charles Jennings popularized a 70:20:10 learning model based on the idea that 70% of leadership skills are learned by doing, 20% are learned through social interaction and networking, and 10% are derived from formal coaching or training initiatives.

This means that managers are directly and indirectly responsible for ensuring the positive growth of the next generation of employees and possess significant influence over their ability to learn.

Understanding the Generational Gap

When talking about tomorrow’s leaders, it is important to mention millennials, as they currently make up more than 36%  of the U.S. workforce. This figure is expected to increase to more than 46% by 2020, according to a recent infographic via Upworthy.

These are important facts and figures to come to grips with, as the way Millennials perceive the corporate or business world and the way they react to management is very different from previous generations.

Leadership Theories and Employee Training

There are two main types of leadership styles that managers naturally fall into. As such, it can help to know more about the learning capabilities and preferences of your workforce to facilitate higher levels of information receptiveness.

When designing training to turn employees into leaders in the field, managers can emphasize the following:

  • Task-oriented outcomes:
    • Employees who are logical and analytical and show a keen understanding of how to accomplish tasks by focusing on workplace procedures benefit from learning through a workflow.
  • Relationship-oriented outcomes:
    • By contrast, employees motivated by incentives and one-on-one mentoring benefit far more from receiving real-world and practical advice, which they can then apply themselves.

In practice, the best approach to training employees for leadership is a combination of the two, as team cohesiveness, encouragement and efficiency are all equally addressed in a supportive environment.

Facilitating Successful Leadership Transitions

Now that you’re armed with the basics for identifying leadership traits and are aware of how you’ll need to tailor your instructions for the benefit of your employees let’s take a look at some of the more practical strategies you can implement when developing new leaders:

1. Help Foster an Ownership Mentality

Getting employees to take charge of certain situations on a regular and consistent basis means promoting job satisfaction and letting them do things their way with minimum supervision.

The same thing can be done with administrative procedures or the recording of meeting minutes. Have them take notes and give them a feel for the kind of environment they’ll be working within and once you think they’re ready, let them experience that defining sink-or-swim moment.

2. Put Employees in the Spotlight

Managers need to resist the urge to take control when projects are nearing completion or whenever an employee comes to ask for help. By delegating the right tasks to the right people, you’ll be promoting independence and a forward-thinking attitude that will help to carry the team in your absence or in the event that you receive a promotion.

It is critical that you give your employees opportunities to shine so that they can draw from their experiences. You can easily do this by assigning presentations to each of your star employees after they’ve seen you deliver a few and know what to expect.

3. Invest in Formal Development and Training

It might be that your company attracts the attention of students from all over the world and can operate in-house internships to promote U.S. workplace values while gaining access to a much larger pool of employees who might be leadership material.

Alternatively, your company may be receiving applications for paid work from overseas students studying in the U.S. Under such circumstances, it may be necessary to evaluate the authenticity of academic work through an external organization.

Once satisfied with the credentials of potential recruits, you’ll have a clearer idea about how to integrate their abilities into your workforce and how to develop them through further education or ongoing, on-site training programs.

4. Offer Fast-Track Career Advancement

Reward employees that perform well and incentivize high achievers by offering opportunities to move up the corporate ladder. To formalize this practice, you can carry out incentive schemes so that all of your employees know where they stand and how they can reach the next plateau.

5. Conduct Regular Performance Analyses

Alternatively, you may wish to consider putting a needs analysis in place to track and review any progress made within your company or business. Not only does this help you as a manager to determine their overall strengths and weaknesses, but it also lets employees know how far they’ve come.

Providing proof that leadership skills are being learned and subsequently put into practice can be an excellent motivational tool for ambitious self-starters. You’ll want to cultivate this mentality and ensure their talents are leading them in the right direction.

While there are many other ways to go about turning recruits into leaders, the most important thing you can do as a mentor is give each employee every opportunity to rise to the occasion. When they can repeatedly reinforce their standing as valued and important members of the company hierarchy, the results will speak for themselves.

Do You Know How to Help Turn Employees Into Leaders?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Sarah Landrum
Sarah Landrum
Sarah is a Marketing Specialist, social media addict and health nut determined to live life to the fullest. Passionate about writing, she blogs about a variety of topics including career, health, style and more. You can catch her dishing out career wisdom with a side of wit on career development blog, Punched Clocks.
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