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Enabling your managers to become leaders

So you have a set of good managers, but how do you get them to become leaders? As a senior leader you have a key role in nurturing them, helping them to become leaders of people and organisations. But how do you get them to make that transition? Here are some idea people I have worked with use.

Get leadership on the agenda

Make their move to leadership and their development part of your regular catch-ups. Set objectives which include more leadership activities. Create learning plans focusing on their leadership behaviours and presence. Coupled with these, discuss (and begin to coach) around their leadership aspirations.

By setting out your expectations of them moving forward, as well as knowing their expectations are of you, you create an agreement between the two of you.

Together with these you are formalising and setting out your intent around the manager’s development. Additionally, you are demonstrating your commitment to the manager.

Make coaching your leadership style

By coaching you are continually placing the manager in a place of stretch and learning around their own leadership growth. Your language and behaviours will role model best practice. Coaching will get them to regularly look at their actions and behaviours through a leadership lens. Getting them to set personal leadership goals will create energy and motivation in their growth..

Adopting more of a mentoring role will allow them to use your experiences for their own situations. Or, there might be others in the business who might make a good mentors for them. You don’t have to do it all.

Involve them in ‘big picture’ activities

Part of becoming a leader is about spending time in bigger picture thinking, activities and strategy. This might start off by them simply observing strategic planning followed by a feedback and discussion session. Gradually, they might support you in creating elements of the strategy. Equally, you asking them to create people and business plans for their teams for the next 12 months, will transform their thinking.

Access to formal leadership development

No matter what experiences you share with them, accessing formal leadership development is valuable. Exposing them to current leadership thinking and theory will stretch them. Being able to discuss leadership with like minded peers will build both context and networks. Qualifications enable them to demonstrate their learning and consider application to their own environments.

Your role here is to help set learning objectives, support through the development and coach them to apply their new found abilities.

Train them to coach others

A coach focuses on developing people to become more self sufficient, confident and self aware. Training managers to become coaches, encourages them to have conversations which take them out of their natural doing and fixing mindset. Consequently, this places them more often in a more strategic leader role.

Additionally, this training teaches managers to listen properly to people. Listen to what is said, not said, done and not done, listening about the past, present and future. Not only to listen but to also think and process before responding. Both key leadership attributes.

Emotionally literate

Being aware of self, impact on self and others as well as motivation and empathy are key modern leadership attributes. Emotional intelligence (EI) is a builder of relationships and teams.

In conversations with your managers, explore their thoughts and feelings. Examine the impact of their actions on the team and how they can manage their feelings in situations. These will all contribute to deepening their EI.

Similarly, developing EI nurtures emotional resilience in leaders, a key attribute in today’s business world.

Feedback, feedback and more feedback

Feedback is information on performance. This information on their approaches and behaviours allows them to make their own more informed decisions around their leadership. Feedback is vital for good leadership. Encouraging your managers to seek feedback from reports, peers and stakeholders will impact on their self awareness. By the same token this will help them to continually invest in their own leadership.

Helping yourself…

The value in developing your managers to leaders is many fold. Yes they become organisational leaders. Also, you are growing the business’s talent pipeline. You are enabling others in teams to thrive. You are role modelling leadership. Finally, you are helping yourself. The stronger the leaders you have around you the more opportunity and position you create for yourself.

Becoming a leader requires deliberate focus and effort. You are the enabler of good leadership in others. All of the above activities are a natural part of how you lead and develop people. Moreover, their development is your responsibility and legacy. Contact Abintus today to see how we can help you create this legacy. Managers not leading? Find out why this might be.

Nick Howell runs leadership and coaching development programmes across all sectors. His aim is to create confident and competent leaders and managers able to perform and deliver for their teams and organisations.

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