Many have written in the post-COVID era about the struggle to find talent. It is not just the talent level to fill entry-level roles but also the seasoned and skilled talent necessary to grow an organization and its next generation of leaders. One tactic to lessen the reliance on outside talent is to develop your current cadre of employees. Organic people development is not a new revelation, but surprisingly, few are doing it well. The good news is there are tools for those bold enough to dedicate the time and effort to equipping others to become future leaders.
To start, well-known leadership expert John C. Maxwell published several small books on the essentials for a well-rounded and capable leader. The collection is known as REAL – Relationships 101, Equipping 101, Attitude 101, and Leadership 101, and since their release, Maxwell has added a fifth dimension to the mix, communications, that updates the acronym to CLEAR – Communications, Leadership, Equipping, Attitude, and Relationships. Of the five essentials, equipping strikes at the heart of the war for talent.
In Equipping 101, Maxwell emphasizes that one of the leader’s primary responsibilities is not just to lead but also to equip others to lead. For an organization to grow and thrive, it needs more than one strong leader; it requires a whole band of leaders at various levels. Regrettably, a high percentage of new leaders were highly successful individual contributors whose heroics were noticed and rewarded with a promotion to management. These rising leaders are usually left alone to acquire and hone their leadership skills, so they and the organization struggle. Conversely, when we focus on equipping others, many benefits are realized.
Improved Delegation – A leader focusing solely on leading without equipping will quickly become overwhelmed, as they cannot do everything alone. By training, empowering, and preparing others to take on leadership roles, trust in the abilities of others is built, and delegation increases. Developing more leaders, not just followers, lightens the load on senior leaders and ensures the longevity and resilience of the organization.
Vetted Leaders – Recognition as a potential leader should not be based solely on individual performance. There are no guarantees that a good worker will make a good leader. Instead, through the equipping process, leadership potential is tested. Candidates are evaluated as they learn and become exposed to leadership scenarios. The employee’s dedication, commitment, and willingness to learn are verified in advance of formal promotion.
Accelerated Capability – A step-by-step process for equipping in-house potential leaders speeds execution. Current employees are steeped in the organization’s culture, purpose, and mission, eliminating the need for cultural assimilation. Knowledge of the company’s products and services will speed the transition and minimize process or systems training. Onboarding is unnecessary.
Enhanced Innovation – The upskilled in-house leader will have direct knowledge of the company’s bottlenecks and stress points experienced in their past role. This familiarity speeds potential fixes and process reinvention. Equipping leaders to fuel their ascension from the lower levels of an organization generates new ideas and richer tactical insights. Employee engagement increases, as does innovation.
Once the process of equipping begins, it is essential to maintain momentum. Recognizing and celebrating successes, continuous learning, and ensuring that the organization’s cultural values support the development of its members are elements of powering the perpetual flywheel of talent creation.
Equipping is an action for leaders at all levels who want to multiply their impact and ensure the long-term success of their organizations. By prioritizing the development of others, leaders not only strengthen their organizations but also leave a lasting legacy.
Are you struggling with operationalizing your talent development initiative? Visit helmwise.com to schedule a complimentary consultation to explore strengthening your strategy and culture and improving your talent and teams.