Many people start a business because they like the idea of being a business owner. They believe that once they get the company up and running, they’ll be able to take off and live the life of a wealthy business person — lounging on the beach with a cool beverage in hand — while the company chums merrily along without them. The reality is that this lifestyle usually takes a long time to become a reality, leading many entrepreneurs to give up before they get to the top of their game.
Most successful entrepreneurs know it takes more than just themselves to run a business effectively. One of the quickest ways to build a business and create the lifestyle you’re looking for is to develop a team that can run the place when you’re not there. To do this, you need to put a structured leadership training program in place. Such a program helps you develop existing employees with leadership potential and also creates a framework within which to assess new employees. The more successful you are at hiring people with leadership potential upfront, the more quickly they can take on more responsibility within the firm.
The Difference Between Leaders and Managers
Let’s be clear on something. Leaders are not always the same as managers. You can have managers within the company who have no leadership skills whatsoever. These people are great at driving toward the company vision but often wear people out along the way. On the flip side, you can have employees in the organization who are strong leaders but are not in the management ranks. These are the people who make things happen. They work well with others, garner the respect of their peers, and create a work environment conducive to accomplishing corporate goals.
It takes both leaders and managers to run a business effectively. And when you can get the traits of both in a single person, the team is that much stronger.
What to Include In a Leadership Training Program
No matter where your employees rank in the company, they can benefit from a robust leadership training program. A well-thought-out leadership training program offers participants a variety of tips, tools, and resources to help them develop their leadership skills. The beauty of creating your own program is that you can tailor it to include courses and activities relevant to your business and industry. This helps mold employees into the type of leader you need them to be, eventually building a team that understands all aspects of the company and can operate autonomously.
Successful companies have found value in including the following segments in leadership training programs.
Problem identification and resolution. No business exists in a vacuum, which means problems will arise from time to time. Good leaders understand how to identify challenges and issues that may get in the way of accomplishing corporate goals. They also understand the importance of assessing and prioritizing the impacts of problems to come up with solutions to mitigate them. These skills can be taught in a leadership training program.
Change management. Another trait that’s important for leaders to have is change management. Organizations go through changes; they’re part of the business cycle. Whether it’s a pandemic, a layoff situation, or extremely rapid growth that has the company in a state of flux, strong leaders help navigate the waters of uncertainty that come with any change and keep everyone moving in the same direction. Without this guidance, employees feel set adrift in a sea of fear, anger, and distrust — all of which are counterproductive to the overall goal.
Conflict resolution. Another topic that’s essential for up-and-coming leaders is conflict resolution. This can be one of the toughest challenges for leaders because most people are hard-wired to avoid conflict. In a business setting, though, conflict is just part of the game. Whether dealing with difficult personalities, trying to create a better work environment, or bringing two opposing partners together to accomplish a common goal, good conflict resolution skills are often the key to success. Resolving conflicts before they escalate also helps avoid messy drama and eliminates stress in the workplace.
Effective communication. A strong leader understands the value of communication in the workplace. Good communication fosters trust and builds strong relationships with the company. It also helps people feel like part of a team. Train your leaders to communicate clearly, frequently, and in a positive way. Also, teach them the value of listening and gathering feedback. Communication is a two-way street.
Coaching/mentoring. Good leaders should always be on the lookout for other like-minded individuals. To truly build a team that’s autonomous, train your leaders to identify others within the organization who will also benefit from leadership training. Train your leaders to constantly be teaching others, helping them to become better at their jobs every day.
Practice What You Preach
Remember that one of the best ways to train people is to let them see you doing what you’re asking them to do. By being a strong leader yourself, you set the example for the rest of the company. Combine that with a strong leadership training program, and you’ll be lounging on the beach before you know it!