Most business leaders are able to successfully run their business while acting as both player and coach. However, they eventually find it becomes nearly impossible to grow their business while remaining intimately involved in calling shots and making plays. For a company’s president, making the transition from star player to coach and building a highly functional and effective team is one of the best ways to grow a company over the long term. It is important for business leaders to surround themselves with people who can help them run their companies, meet customer expectations and hit performance targets while freeing themselves to act strategically.
Many business leaders concentrate their efforts to build a strong staff on team-building activities, clarifying roles and responsibilities or providing training programs. All of these things can contribute to a team’s overall effectiveness. However, these are just a few plays in the playbook. Companies need employees who are dedicated to and invested in their long-term growth. Building a strong team starts with talent — identifying, attracting and deploying the right players to achieve a company’s goals and take on its mid-level responsibilities, thereby freeing senior leadership to focus on the company’s performance and sustainability.
What actions do learning leaders need to take to build the core strengths of their organization’s future star players and allow them to step into leadership roles? This starts with determining the needs and priorities of a company’s senior leadership. Start by asking your company’s president:
1. Where should you be spending your time or what should you be doing that will add the greatest value to your business?
2. What set of skills and expertise do you need on your team to allow you to delegate day-to-day responsibilities and focus your efforts on strategic, long-term growth?
In the beginning stages of building a leadership team, seek employees who are going to complement the company’s mission, vision and core values. By developing employees whose vision mirrors the company’s, learning leaders can be sure they’re making a worthwhile investment. The first thing to look at is the organization itself — but be honest. Taking the time to determine the organization’s strengths, weaknesses and leadership type will help in choosing the right people. Consider this the team tryout. Don’t keep players you never see leaving the bench.
Next, evaluate and measure the company’s existing employees to identify those with the greatest growth potential. Who are the employees who are willing and able to take on day-to-day responsibilities and shore up leadership weaknesses? With time and effort spent on development, could they step into a leadership role? If the needed skills are not there, the next option is to identify and attract the required talent from outside.
Lastly, develop these key employees into a leadership team that can run the day-to-day operations, make tactical decisions and free senior leadership to focus on long-term growth and sustainability. Work to establish specific and measurable goals for that maximize the company’s strengths. Start involving them in discussions about basic business and industry acumen, skills that fill any gaps preventing the company from achieving its mission and vision.
In the end, the company will have a group of leaders invested in making it more successful. Most importantly, your leaders will have the time, opportunity and resources that allow them to focus on their role as a strategic coach and leave the rest up to the team.
Mary Hladio is founder and CEO of Ember Carriers Leadership Group, which provides organizational development, leadership performance and team effectiveness solutions. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.