New Manager Training: How to Develop Successful Leaders

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First-Time Manager Training:
How to Develop Successful Leaders

Mark Pincus, co-founder of Zynga, was looking for a way to lead people more effectively while helping create an instant feeling of ownership and accountability among his team. That’s when he made everyone a CEO. . . yes everyone became a CEO of something!

Zynga is an online social gaming company considered to be the pioneer of social gaming founded in 2007. He has often told the story about how he would put sticky sheets on the wall with one person’s name per sticky. He would then instruct them to write down what they were the CEO of on their sticky by the end of the week. That way, everyone would know who is the CEO of what and would know who to ask questions instead of always just asking him.

He shares how a really motivated and smart receptionist had told him that they needed a whole new phone system. So she became the CEO of that project and not only did she complete it, she did so with flying colors, and ultimately ended up running the whole office.

So does every organization need to be full of CEOs? Not exactly, but every organization needs to think about what kind of leaders it needs and how to create them.

Training successful leaders is about creating a culture where everyone has been given the tools they need to competently own their leadership role. Here are some essential steps to consider when building a pipeline of successful leaders:

Step 1. Identify leadership potential

Begin by assessing your employees’ skills, traits, and potential for leadership roles. Look for individuals who demonstrate strong communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal skills. Consider conducting assessments, structured performance reviews, and seeking input from managers and peers on a regular basis.

A thought-through framework or matrix to evaluate performance and potential is a key component for this. It offers transparency and clarity to employees and helps mitigate unconscious biases.

Step 2. Establish a leadership development program

Create a structured program to develop leadership skills and competencies. This program can include a mix of formal training, coaching, mentoring, job rotations, and stretch assignments. Tailor the program to meet the specific needs and goals of your organization and the specific expectations your organization has on leaders..

Step 3. Provide formal training & encourage continuous learning

Offer leadership training workshops and seminars that cover essential topics such as effective communication, strategic thinking, conflict resolution, team building, and decision-making. Encourage employees to attend external leadership development programs or conferences to gain broader perspectives. Foster a culture of continuous learning by providing access to resources like books, online courses, webinars, and industry publications. Encourage employees to pursue professional certifications relevant to leadership and provide support, such as financial assistance or study leave.

Step 4. Foster mentorship

Pair employees with experienced leaders within your organization who can provide guidance, support, and feedback. Encourage regular one-on-one mentoring sessions to discuss challenges, set goals, and track progress.

Recommended Book for Steps 3 & 4: “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni. Through a fictional story, this book highlights the common dysfunctions that can hinder team performance and provides practical strategies for leaders to address them and build cohesive teams. While this book primarily focuses on team dynamics and overcoming dysfunctions, it also emphasizes the importance of providing formal training for leaders and teams. It offers practical strategies and insights for improving teamwork and leadership effectiveness through training workshops and seminars. It offers insights and strategies for leaders to address team dysfunctions and build cohesive and high-performing teams.

Step 5. Promote cross-functional experiences

Offer opportunities for employees to gain experience in different departments or roles through job rotations or project assignments. This helps broaden their perspective, develop diverse skill sets, and foster a holistic understanding of the organization.

Step 6. Encourage self-reflection and self-awareness

Leadership development should include activities that promote self-reflection and self-awareness. Encourage employees to seek feedback from colleagues and managers, consider conducting 360-degree feedback assessments, and incorporate personality or behavioral assessments.

Recommended Book for Step 6: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box” by The Arbinger Institute. This book explores the concept of self-deception and how it hinders leadership effectiveness. It offers insights on building better relationships, improving communication, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. It helps leaders understand the importance of recognizing their own self-deception and biases to develop stronger relationships and effective leadership skills.

Step 7. Develop emotional intelligence

Emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Provide training on understanding emotions, managing stress, empathetic communication, and building strong relationships. Help employees recognize and leverage their own emotions and those of others to navigate challenging situations effectively.

Recommended Book for Step 7: “Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee: This book emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in effective leadership. It explores how leaders can develop self-awareness, manage their emotions, and inspire and motivate others. It provides guidance on developing self-awareness, managing emotions, and using emotional intelligence to inspire and motivate others.

Step 8. Support autonomy and decision-making

Give employees opportunities to make decisions, solve problems, and take ownership of their work. Gradually increase their responsibilities and provide constructive feedback to enhance their decision-making abilities. Encourage autonomy while providing a safety net for support and guidance when needed. To make this work, tolerate failure and mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities.

Additional Resources for Step 8:

Step 9. Evaluate and recognize progress

Regularly assess the progress of employees in their leadership development journey. Provide constructive feedback, recognize achievements, and celebrate milestones. Adjust the training and development programs based on feedback and evolving needs.

Recommended Book for Step 9: “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. Although not specifically focused on evaluating progress, this book provides valuable guidance on how to have crucial conversations, which is an essential skill for leaders when providing feedback, addressing performance issues, and recognizing achievements.

By implementing these steps, your organization can create a company culture that develops and retains the most successful leaders. But remember, developing successful leaders is an ongoing process. It requires a long-term commitment from both the organization and the individuals involved. By investing in their development and providing the necessary resources and support, you can help your employees grow into effective and influential leaders.

Click here to learn more about our leadership training programs that cover a number of these topics all in one program.



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