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How To Turn Good Employees Into Great Leaders

Below are some tips on how to turn good employees into great leaders.

Amy Galbraith

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Your employees are the backbone of your business. They are the people who come into the office every day and work hard to improve the business that you have built. This is why you should take steps to improve their skills, by sending them on leadership development courses or by using in-house ideas. Below are some tips on how to turn good employees into great leaders.

Encourage your employees to network

Networking is not only a great way to meet people, it  can also help with personal and business growth. If your employees are not highly sociable people, you can start small by encouraging networking among colleagues during lunchtimes or after-work events.

Networking will teach them how to forge powerful connections, initiate conversations and will teach them how to have the confidence of a leader. It can also provide business opportunities and allow them to share ideas and knowledge with other industry professionals. Their reputation in the industry will also improve, helping not only their CV but your business’s status in the eyes of your competition.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Maintain feedback

One of the best ways to help your employees grow and develop into leaders is to maintain a ‘feedback loop’ with them. This means that you provide them with regular feedback on their performance, and allow them to query or comment on any criticisms.

Leaders know that feedback does not mean they are performing badly but rather use it to their advantage to improve themselves and help the business grow. This is what your employees will learn if you maintain feedback with them and provide them with constructive criticism. Have regular, one-on-one meetings with your employees but be certain to remind them that these catch-up sessions are not ‘scary’ and should be positive experiences.

Be a transparent leader

Leading by example is an effective way to encourage leadership development amongst your employees. You should be a transparent and authentic leader, showing your employees that your actions align with your core values and beliefs.

A transparent, authentic leader inspires confidence and loyalty in his or her employees, which  is contagious in the workplace. This means that your employees will become transparent too, creating a workplace that breeds accountability and encourages honesty. These are vital characteristics of great leaders, which your employees are hoping to become. If your employees have a positive role model to learn from, they will be able to become better leaders.

Allow them to struggle a little

Let’s face it, nobody is perfect, not even leaders. Which means that you need to allow your employees to struggle a little, in order to learn how to deal with mistakes. They might turn to you for help with how to solve issues or accomplish a task, but they will need to learn how to solve problems on their own too.

Related: 15 Of South Africa’s Business Leaders’ Best Advice For Your Business

Allowing your employees to struggle a little will help to build their character and will also help them to think creatively when faced with a difficult situation. While you should not turn down your managerial duties altogether, allowing your employees to come to a solution on their own or figure out how to perform a task without your help will build their skills and can save you time, too.

Communicate effectively

Great leaders are effective communicators. If you lead by example with your communication skills, your employees will soon learn how to communicate with the same effectiveness. Without the ability to make their goals and plans understood, your employees will not become good leaders.

People management skills and supervisor responsibilities include having to communicate efficiently, clearly and succinctly with the rest of their teams, a skill which leadership development plays a large role in building up. You could send your employees on communication courses to teach them communication skills or you could organise a workshop for the whole office to attend.

Ignite their passion

Passionate employees make fantastic leaders, which means that you should try to ignite your employees’ passion in their roles and in your company. If you, yourself, are genuinely passionate about your company, this will rub off on your employees and create the same fervour in them.

Leaders need to have passion for their role in the business and should have goals that are aligned with  the business’s goals. This passion is seen and felt at any level of management, whether you are at the top of the ladder or have your foot on the bottom of the rung.

In order to turn your good employees into  great leaders, you will need to encourage networking, maintain a feedback loop, be a transparent leader and allow your employees to solve problems on their own. This will show them that not only do you trust them, but you believe in their abilities over and above their current position. Ignite their passion and watch them (and your business) reach new and exciting heights.

Amy Galbraith is a junior writer at Rogerwilco. She has had a passion for professional writing since graduating from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a Masters degree in English Literature. She now writes compelling copy for an exciting variety of clients, and enjoys writing on topics including education, finance and millennial issues.

Leading

What A Grade 1 Sticker Business Taught Me About Business

It’s the very fundamentals that are frequently overlooked amid ambition and “blue sky thinking” – yet, these remain the most crucial element of any business.

Grant Field

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When I was a kid, my father believed that instead of getting pocket money, my brothers and I should learn how to make money. Stickers were the school craze when I was in Grade 1, and we wanted a collection for ourselves, so Dad said if we wanted to buy the stickers, we needed to make the money. So, logically, we started a sticker trading business. Dad gave us the start-up money and took us through the basics of business.

We had a cash float for purchases, and learnt about cost price, mark-up and selling price – very basic accounting. We kept recycling that money, making extra and using it to buy more stickers. Then we worked out that if we increased the mark-up, we’d make a bigger profit – so why not make the mark-up as big as possible? The obvious happened. Our prices were too high, and we lost customers.

Valuable business lesson learnt, we came back down to a mark-up that other kids were willing to pay for.

More lessons to learn

Then people came to us and asked if they could take a sticker today and pay us tomorrow. We saw no reason not to trust them. Guess what? They didn’t pay us back. We had bad debt on our hands. When we sold out of stickers, we had cash-flow issues and couldn’t buy more stock. Dad was there to help us out, though, so we received another capital injection to get back off the ground. And this time, if we did extend credit, we loaded it for the privilege of “buy now, pay later” – another lesson learnt.

We ran a proper ledger for the business, tracking our inventory, sales and profit. Even if our “bank” account was a piggy bank, we had a clear record of what was going on. When I look back on it, none of what I learnt was irrelevant.

Today, I run a leading financial services company with billions of rand running through our bank accounts. Even though the finances of the business are run on a much larger scale, the principles of business – those basic principles that we learnt trading stickers – still power our company. And when I see entrepreneurial ventures failing, or when friends come to me for advice because their business is struggling, it’s almost always because they haven’t got these basics right.

Related: Successful SA Entreps Share Their Most Valuable Business Advice Ever Received

Clarity

One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that if you don’t fully understand how the money is being made, walk away. Whether you are dealing with stickers or financial services, the business principles should be straightforward: money coming in, money going out, and profitability.

Every day, I look at an Excel statement of my company’s forty bank accounts. Every day, I look at the cashflow, and unusual big-ticket items get a note so I know what’s going on. It’s just like that Grade 1 business, only on a bigger scale.

Entrepreneur, thwarted

Once the other kids saw the success of our sticker business, they started to want to get in on the action, so they came to market with their own competing products. At first, we were able to innovate as the competition squeezed our margins and started to impact on our profits. Eventually, the whole situation got completely out of hand and the school banned sticker trading for profit.

While I didn’t become a sticker magnate, the lessons I learnt in Grade 1 remain central to every business I am involved with – get the basics right.

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Leading

How To Handle A Director Who Always Says No

Diverse opinions on a board is a good thing — but is it boosting your business, or hindering growth and decisions?

Carl Bates

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Do you have that director on your board who always says ‘no’? Regardless of what the issue is, regardless of the context, who raises it or whether or not it is indeed a good idea, their response is either a simple ‘no’ or an elongated perspective on why they disagree? It can even feel at times that they are actively working against the company and against the board. Although they obviously do not see it that way.

Experienced directors will have multiple war stories related to this subject. Aspiring directors should be aware of how to approach these situations when they arise and how to avoid becoming the subject of such stories.

Develop a culture of trust, candour and professionalism

A board’s conduct must be characterised by trust, respect, candour, professionalism, accountability, diligence and commitment. It is the board’s collective responsibility to build this culture and to engage with one another in a productive and effective way.

Dissent should be welcomed when it is constructive and engaging. The idea of being the ‘devil’s advocate’ for the sake of it however, is not the best way to approach this. Dissent should be based on a real belief that the issue has not been fully debated or creates a real challenge for the company going forward.

If you have a director who genuinely believes a different path is right for the company, hear them out and engage in the discussion. In my experience, this often opens up an issue or changes a detail that when taken as part of the whole, improves the decision-making outcome for the board and the company.

Related: Contributing In The Boardroom

Remove the politics from the boardroom

At the heart of this issue is often politics. Politics between directors, who are also shareholders or executives. Politics between the ‘new guard’ and the ‘old.’ Regardless of the genesis, politics really do not have a place in the boardroom and directors who engage in it should be called out by the chairman or another senior director.

In local government I have heard stories of councillors who always vote ‘no,’ so that whenever something goes wrong, they can say “I told you so,” and show the public why they should be re-elected. But that is indeed politics. The boardroom is a very different space. It is private and discussions should be confidential.

Board rotation, a simple solution

While the removal of an errant director should never just be left to resolve itself, there is a simple solution that can support the easy removal of the most difficult directors. The challenge is that it requires forward planning prior to the appointment of any new director.

Directors should only ever be appointed for a predefined term, with automatic rotation at the end of that term. This does not stop you from reappointing a director for a further period. It is, however, always easier to ask someone to consider a further term than it is to tell them that their time has come and they should resign from the board.

Having a predefined term for a director essentially ensures an automatic resignation period. A simple rotation policy for directors is not just good governance, it is a practical step you can take to provide a way out of a sticky relationship.

Ultimately the board as a whole must address issues that detract from the board fulfilling its function as and when they arise. A rotation policy might provide an effective backstop. A high-performance board is one that will tackle the issue head-on.

Read next: How Diversity Drives Board Performance

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Leading

The Power Pose: Using Body Language To Lead

Use the way you move and stand and interact with others to become a better entrepreneur and leader.

Howard Feldman

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In 2012, the power pose became a global sensation. A Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy hit a staggering 46 million views and became the second most popular Ted Talk in history. The premise was simple – hold a powerful pose and it will not only affect the way you behave but it will even change your body chemistry. Since the talk, the power pose has met with heavy criticism and been labelled as nothing more than pseudoscience. Fortunately for believers, they were proven right. Amy Cuddy released further research this year and it fundamentally proves that this bold stance works exactly how she said it did back in 2012.

The power pose isn’t something that you’d adopt in a meeting or around the office but the science behind it shows how important it is to pay attention to your body language as it can fundamentally change how you are perceived.

Notice how you are noticed

People spend a lot of time reading one another’s body language and the way a person stands or holds their hands or moves can influence how others see them. It’s very natural to judge someone else’s posture, but what about the way they are judging yours? Few people look at how their body language is affecting the way people engage with them.

Related: [Quiz] How Good Are You At Reading Others In Business?

So, what are you supposed to do?

Fake it until you make it

Want to know how can you adapt to become a better leader? You can fake it.

The power pose isn’t the only way to change your mood. Research has shown that whether you laugh naturally or put on a smile and make yourself laugh, your body still releases the same levels of serotonin.

Whether you are really laughing or just pretending to laugh doesn’t matter – they both have the same impact on your demeanour.

Change how others see you

Think about the pose that every athlete adopts when they win a race or achieve something that’s been physically taxing. They hold their hands outstretched in the air. Even blind athletes hold the same pose. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s a physical manifestation of success.

Now consider the defensive pose. The tight hunched shoulders or inward curve of the spine. These poses immediately make a person look nervous, afraid and lacking in confidence. Like the porcupine curling in on itself for protection.

The same ideas apply to daily business life. While the power pose and the athlete pose are not necessarily a team activity, ensuring that you hold your body upright and with confidence means that you’re conveying an attitude of strength. You come across as confident and capable and positive. You are ready to take on anything and overcome the odds.

By contrast, if you are hunched and withdrawn, you come across as nervous and lacking in confidence and these are not the qualities you want associated with you as an entrepreneur and a leader.

Related: (Slideshow) 5 TED Talks That May Change Your Perspective on Life

Body language for entrepreneurs

  • Shake hands like a hero. The way you shake hands with someone is very significant in terms of establishing equality. Be even, be firm but don’t pull people towards you or turn their hands under your own. This makes them feel like you are trying to establish dominance.
  • Create an atmosphere of openness. Maintain eye contact, say hello to people with warmth while holding a strong posture. A warm and open greeting is essential to establishing trust.
  • Do the power pose for two minutes before any meeting or interview. This will get those chemicals stirring and make you feel confident and in charge.

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