Strong organizations are grounded by a well-coordinated, talented leadership team. But how can you ensure that your team leaders are reaching their full potential?
If you want to get more out of your business, more out of your teams, and more out of your investments, you’ll need to spend more time and effort cultivating the perfect leaders for your organization.
How to improve the performance of your leadership team
These are some of the best strategies for improving the capabilities and performances of your leaders:
1. Set better internal goals
One of the first things you can do is set better internal goals for your leaders. What exactly does it mean to be a “good leader” in your organization, and how can your current staff members get there? Good goals follow SMART criteria: they are goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Each goal you set should be clear and easy to understand, with objective performance targets. Each goal should also matter to your leaders, be challenging (but doable), and should come with a time limit built in. Better goals will motivate your leaders to improve their performance.
2. Invest in leadership training
It’s also helpful to invest in an executive education and/or leadership training program for your most promising internal leaders. Executive education will give your leaders the experience, knowledge, and insights they need to perform better in your organization. They’ll also get access to a unique teambuilding and networking opportunity. It’s a relatively small investment that can lead to a huge return.
3. Foster a healthy work culture
The nature of your work culture can have a dramatic effect on your leaders’ ability to perform. For example, does your work culture support an ideal of autonomy and independence? If so, you’ll need to trust your leaders to handle their responsibilities in their own way—and those leaders will need to empower their subordinates to be efficiently independent as well.
Healthy work cultures are also supportive, collaborative, and positive; otherwise, a toxic or oppressive culture can make even the best leaders fail to perform.
4. Promote from within
This is a principle many businesses follow already, but it’s worth pointing out as a precursor to better leadership development. There’s nothing wrong with hiring external leadership candidates, especially if they’ve had a much richer history with leadership than any of your internal candidates; in fact, the outside perspective can be good for your business.
However, promoting from within lends itself to a few major advantages. Namely, your leaders will be much more familiar with the hierarchy of your organization, and you’ll motivate more people on your team to work hard for promotions.
5. Allow a mix of different leadership styles
There are many different types of leadership styles, and no such thing as the “right” approach. Even if your overall work culture supports one style of leadership, a specific leader can bring value to your organization by having a slightly different ground-level approach.
Allow many different leadership styles to flourish in your organization and encourage diversity of thought. Different employees thrive under different conditions, so the more adaptive you are, the better.
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6. Encourage ongoing education and development
One training session isn’t going to be enough for your leaders to reach their full potential. Good leaders are constantly striving to improve themselves, so feed into that instinct by encouraging ongoing education and development.
Encourage your leaders to take new classes that can help them grow, and give them individual goals and assignments they can use to improve their own approach. You can also implement cross-training and set viable paths toward climbing the corporate ladder to incentivize growth even further.
7. Acknowledge and reward your best leaders
Pay attention to the team leaders in your organization who are performing best. They’re motivating employees, setting a perfect example, and are even helping their fellow leaders perform better. Call out their good behavior, and reward them however you can (with monetary bonuses or less tangible perks).
8. Collect feedback and adjust
Finally, make sure you’re collecting feedback from your employees. What do they think about these leaders? Do they seem to be doing a good job? A candidate may seem effective on the surface, but if all their subordinates are miserable and thinking about leaving, something is wrong. Find specific new ways to improve here.
Starting with the right leaders
It also stands to reason that your leaders will be much more effective if you hire (or promote) the right people for the job in the first place. Take your time finding the right candidates, even if that means dealing with inefficient, temporary measures in the meantime. The more time and patience you exercise when finding good leaders, the better fits you’re going to develop.
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