Corporate culture and success begin at the top. Business leaders have a significant impact on the employees they lead. When it’s done well, the entire organization succeeds.
Creating good business leaders isn’t just a matter of offering training, coaching, or support until people become official leaders. Companies that are serious about developing leaders should aim to support employees at all levels, including after becoming leaders.
Here are five ways leaders can continue to grow after becoming leaders, developing those skills in the employees they lead, and creating a stronger company.
1. Get to Know Each Other
A leadership team is a mini-community. We work better together when we understand each other’s perspectives. That’s why getting to know each other as people, and not just leaders, is essential.
Sharing a bit about our lives outside of work during a leadership meeting might seem unproductive, but it might be the only time we connect. Our schedules keep us so busy that we don’t get a chance to see each other; ditto if we’re all working remotely.
That doesn’t mean we have to get into the nitty-gritty of our daily lives. Just the act of sharing a conversation about a non-work topic can make all the difference. It reminds us that there are people behind the job titles and that there’s more going on with each of us than just work.
2. Allow for Disagreements
When building a business, issues are going to bubble up. Every day, leaders will be asked to fix, tweak, improve, and change things. The leadership team should feel free to discuss the issues that are restricting growth and brainstorm solutions to overcome them.
Part of this means giving leaders the freedom to voice their opinions without repercussions (within reason.) Each leader is responsible for a different part of the business, has to deal with unique challenges, and has their own perspective on dealing with it.
Leaders should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on a situation and not be afraid to validate or challenge others’ points of view. A sort of “what happens in the leadership meeting, stays in the leadership meeting” approach where everyone is free to share their ideas without repercussions.
Once the discussion concludes, it’s time to come back together and support whichever decisions benefit the company most effectively. The rest of the company will look to you for a unified voice, and it’s vital to do it as much as possible.
3. Remember That You’re In It Together
The point of a leadership team is that you all work together for the greater good. The team dynamic provides each of you with a broader perspective on your business to make better decisions.
Lean on newer members of the team to break through sticking points or seemingly-impossible situations. They may be able to suggest new and creative ways of looking at things that can break the impasse. Even leaders from other business areas can have fresh ideas that may spark a solution for you since they’ve got different ways of working and thinking.
Individually, you’re all leaders of teams, departments, and business units, but together, you can collaborate to devise solutions for everyone.
4. Demystify Leadership
Many people, including leaders, view leadership as a title to aspire to. Great leaders, however, view it as a responsibility. Yes, we need structure in our businesses to grow and keep moving forward, but leaders are everywhere.
Instead of thinking of leadership as an end goal, think of it as the foundation for a solid business culture. Leaders can arise from any level and be fostered throughout the organization. Remove the mystique of leadership as a place to reach and turn it into a corporate culture where people are given a chance to lead at every opportunity.
5. Give People Room to Fail
Leaders must juggle multiple responsibilities, especially the ability to inspire people and lead them in the same direction, which will hopefully move the company forward in a positive direction. At the same time, you’re trying to develop other leaders to follow in your footsteps later on.
You’ll identify people who may seem ready to lead and allow them to do so. And they may fail, which is okay. Every experience should be something they can learn from and do better in the future. But if they’re never given a chance to try, neither of you will know if they can do it.
Too often, we leave leaders alone once they reach that level within an organization. We support employees along the way, but then stop once they get to the traditional leadership positions.
Leaders should be more collaborative and supportive of each other, helping each one grow individually, and as a group. By demonstrating these five behaviors, they’ll lift each other up and encourage leadership throughout their organizations. And everyone becomes better for it.