Developing Leaders

When you think about the future of your business, are your primary concerns focused on new product development, revenue growth, expanding markets, and similar endeavors? Where does future leader development land on our list? Successful companies are constantly thinking about what the future holds in terms of their future leadership and its role they must play in promoting growth today.

After all, without knowledgeable, perceptive, and ambitious leaders, no business can hope to thrive for very long.

developing leadersWe try hard to continuously be seeking to train and develop people already within our organization, in addition to our other leadership recruitment efforts. Whether it be to prepare our sawmill managers of tomorrow, the future leaders of our forestry teams, or developing our hardwood lumber sales managers for future growth.  Identifying, preparing and investing in these individuals is important to us as a company.

As we operate in the hardwood lumber industry, we find these tactics to be helpful.

Start by looking within. Chances are, you have some very promising leadership candidates already working within your organization. “Be sure to focus on employees who are driven, highly motivated, and invested in the organization,” advises The Training Associates. “These are likely your future leaders.”

Help broaden their scope of business knowledge. Leaders-in-training should have as comprehensive knowledge of the business as possible. Encourage your promising candidates to research all the departments within the company, and to get to know managers and employees as well. Also, putting these individuals in real-life business conditions can accelerate the path towards leadership. For us that means helping lumber sales people work hand and hand with concentration yard team or our hardwood lumber handlers spend time with our green lumber buyers.

“Giving them difficult or heavy projects will reveal their capabilities and capacities as well as develop their critical thinking skills and creativity when faced with unfamiliar tasks,” notes The Page Group. In the process, you will “enhance their commitment to your organization by boosting their confidence in what they can achieve.”

Establish mentorships. Another “leadership-acceleration” tool is mentorship within the company. If you don’t already have a program in place, investigate creating a program that connects veteran employees with your leadership candidates. As we have noted before, “partnering individuals with similar interests or with the type of knowledge they wish to acquire” is a strong formula for a successful mentorship experience.

And consider being creative. Mix it up. We found the people do not have to be in the same department. We had a new recruiter for our hardwood yard operations team mentor with a marketing manager and it worked out really well.  Also, don’t hesitate to allow the person being mentored to help design the program and provide insights along the way. New, contemporary, fresh ideas can be great!

Promote networking opportunities. Obviously, a business leader must make their presence felt both within and beyond the organization. Prospective leaders can experience significant growth when they attend networking events, representing your organization. These individuals come to be seen as the “face” of your business, while gaining great experience as someone to follow as they move up in the company. It’s also a good idea to have their individuals host in-house social events, so they get to know others beyond their own departments.

Finally, when your potential leaders’ decisions and actions result in a success for the organization, make a point of letting everyone else know. Celebrating these achievements gives the individual the kind of in-house credibility that helps cement their status as a future leader.

Let us know if you have other tips that have worked for you.  Drop us a line anytime!

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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