Growth September 26, 2018 Last updated September 23rd, 2018 533 Reads share

7 Practices for Developing an Exceptional Leadership Team Within Your Small Business

Image Credit: AdobeStock

This could be an easy time to get intimidated by the recruitment process. The economy has improved since the recession in 2008 and now people aren’t clambering to get jobs quite like they were a few years ago. Today’s workforce has opportunity and because of that, they’re able to jump ship to your competitors faster and easier than before.

As a business owner, that could sound intimidating. Or, it could sound like a prime opportunity to start creating a plan for developing future leaders in your business. If you chose the latter, here are seven practices to get you started.

  1. Think Outside the Leadership Box

In recent years, large organizations have shaken things up on their team of C-Suite executives. Titles, such as Chief Digital Officer or Chief Innovation Officer lead the charge when it comes to setting up buying experiences for today’s consumers. Zappos even has a senior executive without any title because he has his hand in so many different aspects of the office.

The first step toward building your leadership team is to know what tasks you need to lead. Then, develop those jobs by giving them the appropriate title. Doing this sets the tone for your business, your direction, and the person filling that role. For example, Starbucks easily could’ve limited its C-Suite team to having a Chief Marketing Officer, but instead, they hired a Chief Digital Officer to focus exclusively on creating a frictionless online experience. This unique approach can be done on smaller teams too.

  1. Offer Mentors

Once you know what type of roles you want to have on your leadership team, it’s time to start filling them. But first, you need to mentor the people who will take the helm.

Mentorship programs are excellent ways to coach current employees as they rise the ranks and become leaders throughout your organization – beyond just the C-Suite team. It gives employees one-on-one time and shows them that you’re invested in their success with your small business. This type of mentorship allows you to build stronger relationships, which also aids in keeping your best employees on board and invested in your business. As you grow and have more leadership roles to fill, they’ll already be primed and ready to take charge.

  1. Hand Over the Reins

Part of leadership development is learning how to hand over responsibility to others. To train your team of leaders how to delegate tasks to their team, you must set the example. This means you must start by delegating out tasks yourself. By doing so, you show your future leaders that you trust them.

Handing over the reins can feel uncomfortable at first. Start small and work your way up to bigger tasks.

Another easy and effective place to hand over the reins is with your scheduling. Many companies of all sizes give employees unlimited vacation as a sign that they trust their employees will do their best work when in the office and work hard toward the common company goal. This type of vacation plan might be a little extensive for everyone in your business, but by starting with a handful of people – the ones you anticipate will be future leaders in your company – you can show trust while simultaneously training these employees to take ownership in their job.

  1. Don’t Limit Yourself to One Personality Type

Many times, job descriptions look for specific personality traits. When it comes to leadership, these personality traits tend to be the same across the board. Hard working. Responsible. Positive. Energetic. Although all good attributes, don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to only those personality types.

Some of the best leaders do their job with quiet strength. Other times, good leaders are good nurturers.

By limiting your search and therefore your internal training of future leaders to only the most outspoken and outgoing people on your team, you’ll miss out on other people who can drive teams to success. Branch out your search and you might be surprised by the potential you find.

  1. Keep the Leadership Team Small

It’s tempting to want to develop multiple layers of leaders in your business. After all, you want everyone to feel invested in your company’s core mission and that generally happens in a leadership role. You also want to make sure everyone feels empowered to take action. With only a handful of people calling the shots, the company can feel like it’s being driven by a clique of friends rather than insightful people.

Still, keeping the leadership team small has its advantages too. The more cooks you have in the kitchen, the more cluttered your decision-making process will be. This can drain your productivity. Eventually, everyone will suffer because they’re being pulled in different directions by a variety of leaders. It can get confusing – and fast.

By having a smaller leadership team, you can keep your company’s ship on course toward your common goal easier and more efficiently. Develop your team with this in mind and you’ll be able to pull out the best of the bunch to fill those coveted positions as you grow.

  1. Focus on Your Why

Perhaps the single most important quality in a future leader of your organization is a relentless drive towards your why. Your business’s why, as Simon Sinek famously denoted in his TED talk, answers the question, why your company is in business. It’s what fills your cup and fills your company’s cup.

When developing leaders in your organization, it’s critical that you keep a relentless focus on this why. By doing so, you ingrain the importance of why you’re there and the purpose of your work. When you send your future leaders out on their own to drive their teams, they’ll have this same relentless focus, keeping your company on track toward a common goal.

  1. Look Beyond Seniority

Ultimately, you want leaders who are aligned with your company’s mission and values. This alignment doesn’t always come from time spent in your company; it comes from each individual’s motivation and drive.

By choosing leaders based on seniority, you could end up with the wrong people at the top. Train future leaders, regardless of their time in your company. Train throughout your organization from top to bottom. By operating without seniority in mind, you’ll cast a wider net and be better able to see the cream of the workpool crop rise to the surface faster.

How Are You Training Your Future Leaders?

It’s an important question and one that’s not asked nearly often enough. How are you training the future leaders of your organization? If you don’t have a plan in place, now is the time to start developing one. The sooner you actively start developing your future leadership team, the better the results you’ll see when openings come up throughout your growth.

Jon Forknell

Jon Forknell

Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine's Top 500 Software Companies 2004-2007 and again in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Read Full Bio