Building Your Employees into Future Leaders

When a leadership position opens up, companies can always bring in someone from outside to fill the slot. Or, they can reap the benefits of an intensified effort to build future leaders from within their own internal workforce.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we strive to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders, regardless of their position. This means placing as much emphasis on recruiting employees for our sawmills and hardwood concentration yards as we do for corporate positions through our internship and recruitment programs across the country. buildingleaders

Here are a few steps you can take in fostering essential leadership skills: 

Identify people with promise. In the hardwood lumber industry, just like many other industries, many times it’s more efficient, cost-effective and morale-boosting to develop tomorrow’s leaders from within your present-day workforce. The first step lies in identifying your potential leaders now. Chances are, you or your team know instinctively who has leadership potential, as well as those who likely don’t. This knowledge can help drive efforts to provide opportunities through professional development and performance evaluations that demonstrate these talented employees are worth grooming for the future. 

Identifying leaders of tomorrow is only part of the process. It’s helpful in the early stages to get to know these individuals better. “Find out what motivates and interests them inside and outside of work,” advises Thrive Global. How? By having “informed chats” during breaks or holding “monthly team-building activities where you get to understand who indeed they are.” 

Cultivate an ownership mentality. Potential leaders may not feel strongly engaged with your organization, and therefore lack the motivation to develop their skills. The key here is to cultivate an ownership mentality that begins with “trusting your employees and giving them the authority to make certain decisions,” according to The Muse. When employees “feel like an integral part of the company, they will naturally rise to the occasion and emerge as leaders.” 

Align individual goals with company goals. Employees who feel their own professional ambitions align with those of the organization are most likely to step into a leadership role. Take time to gain a comprehensive understanding of what these leaders-in-the-making want in their careers and do everything possible to link those objectives with the future of your company. 

Let a potential leader gain experience. Nothing prepares a potential leader better than first-hand experience. Whether it’s serving as a project team leader or regularly leading a staff meeting, the chance to learn what leadership looks like will energize these individuals and give them the self-confidence needed to keep moving forward. 

This can also include sending them out into the world in a professional capacity. This can include networking at an industry event, supervising a team of employees at a tradeshow, or simply highlighting them at a team-building event where they serve as leader and coordinator of activities. The experience they gain as part of these efforts, as well as the leadership impression they make on their co-workers, goes a long way towards molding them into the leaders of tomorrow. 

Support creativity and act on the potential leader’s new ideas. It’s altogether possible your potential leader has a deeper understanding of some business operations and of customer relations than the people at the top. Invite this individual to provide creative ideas on where to improve operations or better serve your customers. Assuming their ideas show promise, take the most valuable suggestions and implement changes based on this input. This not only demonstrates confidence in the employee but generates renewed enthusiasm for more engagement in the future.  

Whether it is in one of our sawmills or in our corporate office we always prefer to develop our future leaders from within our organization. Hiring the right people is the necessary first step. To get them genuinely engaged, seek out potential leaders and start grooming them ASAP. This will help with your retention efforts, while letting everyone know how much you value employee input into plans for your company’s future. 

How do you build the leader of tomorrow within your organization? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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