I met and hired my future boss while attending a regional corporate kick-off for a company I was employed at in 2013.
One of the keynote speakers talked about something I had never heard from a podium previously. He talked about another individual at the function that he had hired several years prior to this.
He said of this hire, “He is a strong leader and willing to do what is necessary. When I hired him, I could see he was going to go places. Someday he will be my boss, and I’m excited about that!
I wondered how I would feel about that. How many leaders would be excited about hiring their replacement or their future boss? I’m glad I had a chance to find out.
You hire a young lady who you quickly determine is a natural-born leader. She has great mentoring and teaching skills. She has great initiative and is willing to lead by example.
After a while, you start to realize this individual is more talented than you are. Given a chance, she will climb the hierarchical ladder quickly.
What do you do? Do you work with her to help her move quickly up the ladder, including above you? Or, as is often the case, do you get in her way for fear she will get the promotion you want?
Where, if at all, do we draw the line?
Such a scenario is not uncommon or unrealistic. We have often witnessed managers that hold people back.
How often have individuals left good companies because of a manager who hindered them more than helped? We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling, where you can see the next level, but you’ll never get there.
Companies lose good, talented people all the time because their leadership skills and talent were never recognized.
Great companies develop leaders. They are leadership factories.
This does not happen by accident but rather by design. In the globally competitive marketplace companies find themselves in today, one cannot compete without developing quality leaders.
One of the reasons so many sought-after CEOs obtain such unrealistic compensation contracts is that many companies do not have viable internal leadership development programs.
How often do we see high-priced leaders fail to deliver at the levels the company had hoped?
Leaders move on to the next company willing to rent them at exorbitant fees.
Charisma is not the only leadership skill necessary to effectively lead in the competitive markets that exist now.
In one smaller example, I am aware of a manager who was told that he would not be able to get any higher in the company because he lacked certain skills and was not willing to learn them.
His response was indicative of many managers, “I’m OK with that. Just don’t promote any of my co-workers to be my boss, please.”
His attitude about not wanting someone he worked with to become his boss is indicative of a lack of true leadership skills. I’m sure no one wants to be passed over.
Real leaders are willing to do just that if it will better the organization.
All boats rise together in a healthy organization with healthy leadership.
Building a Development System
Whether you are the lone leader or you have a leadership team, you must develop a system to grow leaders. You must have a leadership development track to run on when you bring new people into your organization.
It may sound simple but establishing goals is the first step.
You cannot get someplace without knowing where that place is.
How will leaders be developed? Who will mentor them, and what will be the milestones? This is not only important for you as a leader; it’s important for the new individuals to see there is a path to leadership that they can follow. I go through hundreds of resumes a month.
Very seldom do I find a resume that does not say, “I am looking for a company I can grow with.”
Many leadership teams build and grow more like weeds than by design.
This tends to lead to stagnation when the organization reaches a point where any further growth results in confusion and an inability to function effectively due to disorganized, confused, and strained leadership functions.
Leadership should become the next step in the process of team development for any organization.
Acquiring Future Leaders
The simple answer is to look for the best people you can find.
How do you go about making sure you find the most talented individuals for your organization? There is a great deal of competition for experienced people. Another solution is to find those who have undeveloped talent and develop them.
Keep an open mind. You cannot always tell what’s inside just by looking at the wrapper. Sometimes you work with rough material and massage it to a finished product.
To successfully recruit experienced, talented people or individuals with great potential, you need to determine the type of person or persons that would be a good fit for your organization.
What talents and/or skills must they possess to be able to develop within your system?
Do they need to be outgoing? For potential leaders—yes? Leaders will often have to work with many different types of personalities and individual diversities.
Colleges & Universities
Almost all colleges and universities have career development conferences or seminars. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to be a vendor at these functions.
Many of these organizations have staff dedicated to helping employers find the right people.
Consider offering an internship for students that potentially fit your profile. Talk with the school to find out what would work best for you and them.
When recruiting potential students, colleges and universities discuss how an education at their school has provided real employment at good companies.
These institutions are very interested in making the percentage of their former students employed quickly after graduation as high as possible.
Seek out the career development departments at schools near you.
This is the prime area where a good leadership consultant would be able to help if your organization is struggling to determine the solution to the previous needs.
I know we consultants often hear the question, “Why should we pay for something we should be able to do internally?” It is easy to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Who is better qualified to be successful at professional recruiting, a company that sells widgets or a professional individual who is dedicated to solving the issues of finding and recruiting the right people?
I’m not discussing run-of-the-mill headhunters.
Many headhunters call themselves professional recruiters when all they do is collect a bunch of resumes and send them to you.
In today’s electronic world, anyone can get set up to receive hundreds of resumes from a job site, including you.
However, professional recruiters can help you build an appropriate profile and do the initial interviews, so you are not bogged down with sorting through unqualified people.
You’ll have to decide what it is worth to get the right people into your organization.
Would You Hire Your Future Boss?
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I keep noding my head while I am reading but what happens afterwards? One has mentored new leaders, they are really good. There is rarely a thank you, and they do not remember from where and from whom their current knowledge and success is derived.