We've been working with several clients lately on developing their next generation of leaders. Without fail, every client grouping of senior managers talks of the weak or under-developed personnel management, delegation, strategic thinking, and personal accountability skills in their direct-report managers. The really interesting thing is: Almost all of these senior managers are individuals who themselves had these same weak skills just a few short years ago. Huh. I wonder how they gained them...
They gained them by being coached and mentored, by reading, by gaining exposure and experience, by leading difficult projects, by attending training programs, and by focusing differently when at work. They gained many of these skills by being held accountable by me or others like me and "forced" to learn, to try, and to ultimately "naturally" do the things effective managers and leaders do. The key is: They were taught. Someone with the experience shared insights and lessons learned with them. Now it's their turn to share what they've learned with their next generation of leaders.
One of the fundamental responsibilities in management is to develop the people for whom we are responsible. We're supposed to help them continuously develop enhanced or new skills to ensure they're capable of performing at a level our company will need them to perform one, two, three or more years from now. We wouldn't expect a computer to be able to support software programs one, two, or three years from now without enhancing its capabilities, but we hold that expectation of our employees. We naively assume they'll just figure things out.
More often than not, the most often studied trainer in your company is you. You're the one most staff pay attention to every day. You're the one they model, take their cues from, and develop their skills because of. You're it. So it's time to conscientiously analyze how you do what you do and segment it so others can learn in bite-sized pieces, just as you did. Your managers won't need to learn everything in the same order or even many of the things you did - because your organization is different now than it was when you learned select skills. However, your managers will need to learn many of the same people skills you've struggled to master. Let's face it - people are people and that's the most difficult challenge any of us face in our lives: Dealing with people.
Most importantly, remember: It wasn't all that long ago that you too had weak management and leadership skills. So the next time you are frustrated with one of your staff, take a mental step back and ask yourself, "Did I ever do something like this? If so, what lesson did I learn that helped me through it? How can I share that lesson now?"
So don't get frustrated. Teach. It's the way you will develop your next generation of leaders. Share your lessons learned.
Copyright MMIX - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!