In companies, I often see or hear that people get a proper leadership education when they reach a certain stage or level. I want to argue that this is the best approach and I want to give an idea, how things could be done differently.
But let me start with a clarification. To become educated in leadership is by no means only the responsibility of companies. In my opinion, when you are responsible for other people, you should ask yourself a couple of questions and try to educate yourself to the best of your capabilities. Questions such as:
- What kind of leader do I want to be?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- How do I behave in stressful situation? And how do I deal with stress?
- What is considered good leadership?
- How can I improve and how can I make sure that I get the right feedback?
… are vital and only the first step to equip yourself for the upcoming task.
Nevertheless, in my opinion also companies have responsibility of educating their leaders. And they should have a vested interest, because how people lead will, to a large extent, determine motivation, happiness and the overall culture.
It doesn’t need to be the most fancy and expensive workshop. I guess most companies have their own documents and other learning materials on how to become a good leader. And if not, ask managers with a good leadership reputation, if they can share their knowledge, which can then be accessed by all employees. Or hire a leadership training company to create such materials for you.
However, even more important than gaining knowledge is being supported and guided, especially in the beginning. Constant feedback talks with a supervisor or mentor is crucial and can steer the new leader into the right direction. Moreover, it is important to incorporate 360 degrees feedback. In the end, the his or her team has to work with that person. So, they should be able to give feedback, too. And, as leading means serving, the leader is responsible to make his teams work as easy as possible. Therefore, the team should have a say in how they perceive their leader and what could be done differently.
There are so many benefits to educating your leaders early in their career. You can improve team moral, motivation, happiness, and, in turn, their performance and resistance to stress. If done right, you can empower employees and increase creativity and, as a consequence, innovation. You will increase retention. You will have an extra marketing, because people will most likely speak about your company in a positive way to others. You will also improve the lives of all your leaders. Being a team lead for the first time without any support can be scary and anxiety inducing. Guiding them on their way will do a lot for their confidence and mental and physical health.
But what would happen, if you leave it the way it is? You can get lucky and have selected the right people, who turn out to be very good leaders. But, most often you will get some good leaders and some bad leaders. Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired for negativity. Meaning, we focus more on negative events, than on positive. This means, negative stories spread faster and wider than positive stories. You will probably lose talented employees, either to other companies or to mental resignation. That is twice the problem, as the person is unhappy and the company won’t get the performance it could get, if the person is motivated.
I myself, experienced a lot of negative examples and it always leaves a bad taste and it always nibbles of a small piece of my motivation and energy, especially, when I try to change things and nothing changes. We need to be aware of, that we deal with human beings and not resources. We are complex beings and need to be treated individually. This doesn’t make it easier for leaders, but that is part of the job. As a leader, you often have a huge influence in the mental states of your team member. We spend so much time at work, it is just not possible to see your team member as workers only.
Please be aware of your responsibility and ask yourself and others what kind of leader you are, and what you want to improve to make the lives of your team, as well as your own, much easier. This, in my opinion, will lead to a more innovative and successful culture.
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments or write me a mail. And, if you liked this post, share it with friends or colleagues.
Have a wonderful day and take care =)