By Maurie Cashman
I have had the opportunity to discuss leadership with several individuals and groups recently. These discussions caused me to reflect on my leadership experiences and styles over the years. I am a strong believer that leadership is not something you are born with. Rather it is something that is learned and earned.
â€œExpect the worst and you won’t be disappointed.” –Helen Macinnes, Scottish-American author
No one wants their leadership style to be characterized by this quote. However, without proper training and careful mentoring, this is often what results, particularly in smaller organizations. One of the most important components in any ownership transition plan is that leadership has been developed below the level of the owner. However, many owners are unable to develop meaningful leadership in their organizations. When they decide that they want to liquidate part or all of their ownership they find that the value of their company is diminished because there is not sufficient leadership within the company to allow it to function without the current owner.
Buyers, either internal or external want to be confident that the business can function without the owner. There are two fundamental reasons for this. First, they want the confidence that the success of the business is not dependent on the owner for risk management reasons. Second, some buyers will not want the owner to continue with the company. They may want to take the company in a different direction and fear that the owner will not buy in and provide leadership on new ideas.
Therefore, it is critical to implement a, written leadership development plan for each of your key employees and that you, as the owner, buy into these plans and take them very seriously. Pick two to three key employees from your staff and work together with each of them to develop their leadership skills.
The plan for each individual should be tailored to capitalize on their strengths. A mistake that is often made is to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths. Each individual will have different strengths, if you have done a good job of hiring. If you can blend these strengths you will be able to identify and cover each critical aspect of your organization with strong leadership. Some people will function very well in stable, process-oriented environments while others will be indispensable in chaotic times. Both are important and you should recognize that your employees will look to different internal leaders at different times, depending on what is going on in the company, industry, and economy. Expect and build on the best, and you will get the best.
Next week we will talk about employee responsibilities for mentoring relationships and earning leadership.
What do you think? Iâ€™d love for you to join the conversation in comments