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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Four Ways To Develop Potential Leaders

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Leadership development takes time but is one of the best things you can do for your career, company, and employees. In today’s episode, we’ll discuss how to develop the potential leaders you identified in the last episode and use your position, relationships, and knowledge to develop them until they become leaders.


1.  Mentorship

The greatest gift you can give a future leader is a great mentor. When looking for a mentor, consider the personality, strengths and weaknesses, and needs of the future leader. Then, look inside your network to find them a perfect match. Ensure both the mentor and the future leader understand the expectations of this dynamic. Check in frequently with the future leader to assess the relationship. If they don’t feel connected with their mentor or are not improving, don’t hesitate to pivot and find a different mentor. Don’t hesitate to pull the plug if it isn’t a fit! Move swiftly to pivot if needed.


2.  Assign them leadership projects without the title.

Give your emerging leaders a challenging assignment that falls within their capabilities. Consider trusting them with, a new initiative, a team contest, a new product launch, etc., so you can observe how they lead people without a title. Set clear expectations and boundaries and give them the resources they need, but avoid micromanaging or interfering with their work. Encourage them to use their creativity, initiative, and judgment to find solutions and innovate. Support them to take risks, experiment, and try new things while creating a safe and supportive environment where they can learn from failure.


Q: Describe the first time you took on a leadership project or position. How did you feel? Did you have an official title? What support did you receive from your boss/leader? How did they support you when you struggled? Was it a positive experience for you? Why or why not?


3. Invest in formal training.

An organization’s current and future leaders will determine whether your company fails or succeeds. If you are not investing in leadership, you will struggle and even fail. Addressing accountability, emotional intelligence, and communication is a good place to start.


Q: What training made a difference in your life? What does your personal development process look like? What does your current boss do to help ensure that you receive ongoing training? Could they do anything differently? Why or why not?


4.  Be a great role model for them.

As a mentor, you must model the values and behaviors you expect from your mentees. Remember, you can teach what you know, but you will reproduce who you are. Leadership is much better caught than taught. Be professional, decisive, ethical, diligent, and supportive, and you should see the same behavior from your future leaders.


Q: Describe a leader who has been a role model to you. What qualities did they have? How did they respond to stressful situations? What made them stand out as a leader?



Application Activities

  1. The key to a great mentorship relationship is ensuring that both sides know what to expect. Before you start a mentoring relationship, listen to this episode called The Dynamics of Mentoring. Here, I give tips on how to organize your first meeting and how to set expectations that will ensure the mentee gets the most out of the relationship.

  2. Does your company have a leadership development program? If not, consider creating a similar program for your team. You can include videos or training on topics like holding people accountable, empathy, and communication skills and then offer a list of books or other training with more specific topics that your employees can choose from to address their areas of opportunity. You can also include a list of people who you know would be willing to serve as mentors. Having this information in one place will help simplify the process for you and give employees an easy way to start moving toward leadership.


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