I am often asked whether leaders are born or trained and personally, I believe that a healthy dose of both is what truly defines our best leaders.
Some of the world's best leaders appear to have a natural tenacity and skill to lead, while others develop and harness this skill over a number of years, roles and life experiences. What strikes me as the fundamental skill of a true and inspirational leader is the ability to spot and nurture talent amongst those who support them. Leaders are successful not just because of their own achievements, but because of the team around them who adopt, follow and support their vision.
My thirty years in business has taught me that as employers it's up to us to identify employees with potential and develop them to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Paige.
In my view, many businesses fail because they do not recognise the value of their people and the fact that they are the ones really driving results. All entrepreneurs and managers must ask themselves; what am I doing to enhance the biggest asset of my organisation? How much time are you investing in your people to make full use of their potential and development? It's the inability to spot an employee's talents and strengths which is the real motivation killer for your team, and long term dissatisfaction amongst staff members will cost your business or organisation money.
I've always been really passionate about helping people who are keen to develop themselves. As a leader in your business, if you don't recognise someone's talents and give them the tools to build a successful career, you won't realise or harness that individual's true potential. That's the mark of a true leader, one who shares their successes with their team and helps them to gain momentum in their own careers too.
Managers and entrepreneurs are time poor, I understand that, but if you cannot find the necessary time to develop your team there are ways to use a more corporate structure to support your efforts in this. For example you could use existing people in the business to assume a mentoring role for junior people. Mentoring within your own business not only allows the more senior members of the team to develop their nurturing skills, it also engages younger members of the team with senior levels they do not always have access to. The idea is to create an entrepreneurial spirit within the business and a real sense of 'sharing.' This is best achieved when as a leader you listen and consider everyone's ideas. Getting the best out of all levels within the team.
Skill progression can help staff learn more efficient ways of doing their job and most importantly help them develop personally too. If you take an interest in an employee, it is more likely they will invest in your business and actually enjoy working for you. A clear management structure also helps to identify the career paths that exist, and enables employees to ascertain their ambitions and motivations of progression or 'climbing the career ladder'. It isn't just about providing your managers with specific skills to tackle particular tasks, it's also about encouraging them to be able to translate those skills to different situations and develop new ones.
All leaders must fit this criteria, if you're not nurturing and developing your teams around you then really you're just a one man band. To be a true inspirational leader you have to be alive to harnessing all the talent that you already have within your business and without the support of a team who are inspired to work with you to achieve your ambitions you will lose out in the long run. Whether you are a born or trained leader, both will recognise that this skill is an essential part of business growth, for their own and the team's mutual success.