When you think about what makes a good leader, what comes to mind?
Most people think of traits like strategic decision-making, empathy, persuasiveness, and communication skills. All valid answers, but people often overlook the most convincing sign of a natural leader: the ability to grow others to be leaders themselves.
As a CEO, everyone else looks to you to lead the way. But as the head of a growing organization, you can’t do it all yourself. Your management teams must act as the CEOs of their departments, while you oversee it all and focus your efforts on organizational growth.
Some CEOs may argue that there aren’t enough hours in the day to train every manager to be a good leader. They think that managers should already have adequate leadership skills at the time of their hiring.
Here’s our rebuttal: You hire employees based on skills and their potential to grow those skills, not because they are natural leaders. In fact, only 10% of people are considered natural leaders, so it’s highly unlikely that everyone you hire will be one.
Effective leadership paves the way for clear direction, goal alignment, productivity, and ultimately, stronger business performance and results.
While not everyone is a natural leader, most leadership skills can be developed and improved over time. By providing managers with the resources necessary to lead their teams to success, you will end up saving time in the long run.
5 ways CEOs can develop strong leaders
1) Provide continuous learning
Managers must stay up to date with current knowledge and trends. CEOs should focus on creating a culture of learning, where employees are encouraged to challenge themselves and take on new opportunities.
Here are some ways that CEOs can help their management teams learn and grow:
- Mentorship opportunities: Explore employee mentorship programs and pair managers with experienced professionals to facilitate learning and development. Mentors can provide guidance and support, offer feedback on performance, and share their own knowledge.
- Online courses: Online learning platforms offer a wide range of courses on topics ranging from leadership and management to technical skills and industry-specific knowledge. Some good starting places are LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, and Alison.
- Workshops and conferences: Encourage managers to attend workshops and conferences to learn from experts in their field, network with other professionals, and gain exposure to new ideas and best practices.
2) Involve managers in company decisions
Granting managers autonomy in the company creates a space where they are not only encouraged, but also obligated, to be leaders. Sharing and building upon each other’s ideas helps optimize executive decision-making and innovative thinking. It also helps managers feel more valued and confident in their roles, which will cross over into the way they lead their teams.
Quarterly planning presents a great opportunity to involve managers in high-level decisions. Allowing managers to voice their ideas and opinions during planning sessions enables effective communication and collaboration.
Allowing your managers to act as the decision drivers of the company helps hold them responsible. This sense of responsibility promotes accountability and motivates them to exceed expectations.
3) Build trust through delegation
A culture of accountability goes hand-in-hand with a culture of trust. Trust is one of the most important virtues within a team, especially when it comes to the relationship between CEOs and managers. As a CEO, you must trust your managers to lead their teams without you being involved in every action and decision they make.
At Align, all department managers own a different goal or priority each quarter. They are responsible for building and executing a plan of action to achieve that priority. They are also responsible for enlisting help from team members to complete relevant tasks, and track and communicate progress.
By delegating responsibilities and trusting your managers to get the job done, you can improve their leadership skills while improving organizational performance.
4) Hold more frequent and well-structured meetings
A great way to develop leaders is through enhanced communication rhythms. The best (and easiest) way to improve communication is by following a well-structured meeting format.
Several internal meetings end up being a waste of time, but only because they don’t follow a productive structure. All-hands management team meetings should follow an agenda that allows managers to share progress and challenges, brainstorm solutions, and get feedback.
In addition to instilling good communication habits, these meetings promote leadership among managers by providing them with direction and information to relay to their teams.
One on one meetings are another essential piece of internal communication between CEOs and managers. They provide a space for open dialogue where you can dig deep into what your managers are struggling with and how you can help them.
1 on 1s also provide opportunities to conduct performance analyses and discuss how you can strengthen their leadership capabilities.
Managers should have recurring 1 on 1s with their direct reports, so by doing the same with them, you promote a top-down leadership approach.
5) Lead by example
Even as adults, we all need role models. CEOs play a critical role in setting the tone for a company’s culture and performance, and have a strong influence over their managers’ leadership styles.
When you consistently demonstrate strong leadership qualities and behaviors, your managers are more likely to follow suit. This includes everything from clearly communicating expectations and holding yourself accountable to being transparent and collaborative in company decision-making.
By embodying these qualities, you can create a more positive and productive work environment that encourages employees to perform at their best. Ultimately, this will lead to improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and strategic growth.
As a CEO, you are responsible for ensuring that your management teams are equipped with the right skills to lead successfully.
The benefits of developing leaders are not only imminent, but also help improve long-term organizational health. Building resilient teams is more important now than ever as uncertainty is a prevalent theme in our daily lives and business dealings.
Furthermore, investing in your organization’s leaders early on helps pave the way for succession planning and ensure business sustainability.
So if you want to create a high-performance organization that continues to thrive even through tough times, start investing in developing leaders today.
To learn how your management teams can use the Align software to lead their teams successfully, book your demo today.