How to build more leaders who are ‘tour guides’?

Top talent in organizations gets promoted to a manager/leadership position on the merits of their technical skills and consistent high performance. However, it is often observed that the same talent who rocked the boat as an individual contributor is unable to make the same impact when it comes to managing and extracting a similar performance output from their team. The gap invariably is due to the lack of properly ‘equipping’ your top talent as they look to transition into a people-leading role. 

The situation is well described by John Maxwell who says that most leaders are like tour/travel agents, they talk about a destination which they have never visited themselves. He further says that leaders must be like tour guides, who can handhold you through your entire experience in person at the destination!

In fact, 63 percent of Millennials believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed and only 7 percent of employers report having leadership training programs, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report.

How to build more leaders who are ‘tour guides’?

Create a Succession Plan

This helps to spot the right talent - map their existing strengths and importantly serves the opportunity to identify the additional skills that require development over the due course in time. Once you identify these prospect leaders and they express an interest to be future leaders, you must:

·      Understand their long-term career objective 

·      Be transparent about the additional skills required 

·      Make a phase-wise plan preferably one quarter at a time 

·      Have an effective measurement system in place 

·      Keep regular touchpoints to provide feedback and progress 

Focused Group Session

More than the technical skills, it is critical to developing behavioral, empathy and phycological aspects of leadership. Conduct focused group session to run multiple workshops which are driven by gamification and a simulation role-play model. Put them through a series of situational scenarios that they will face when they take on this role. Make things as familiar to a real-time situation.

Take Advantage of MOOC’s 

Provide guidance and encouragement for self-development. Register for free online courses or even have a corporate tie-up with few of such platforms (LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, edX, etc) and give the opportunity to complete courses on first-time managers and earn certificates. In addition to learning, it also adds value to their professional profile as reflected in their resumes.

Job Shadowing 

Align individuals with a current successful leader to provide a first-hand exposure on attributes that make a great leader. Let them get a close feel of all the nuances involved in the job. It need not be a full-time engagement, but you can set aside a few hours a week. Get them to participate in business meetings, internal strategy discussion, one on feedback meetings and anything that helps provide a full spectrum of what their future role has in store.

Open Mentorship Program

Build a culture where existing prominent role models are proactive to share advice, best practice sharing and keeping an open forum where individuals can come forth with their questions and seek valuable insights on the role expectation. These programs have the right ammunition to impart knowledge, experience and importantly the challenges that come with this role and all this preparation is priceless in developing a strong leadership mindset.

To Bring it all Together

It is not only important to promote the right employees to the next role but it even more important to really ‘equip’ them and set them up for success. The right preparation will boost and uplift their confidence to do a great job from the very start of their journey – they will be your tour guides and not tour/travel agents, which in the end is the real deal. 
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Kenneth Wheeler

An HR-L&D professional with 16 plus years of work experience, Kenneth has an obsession to curate an eNPS culture, build an agile Learning architecture to boost the future-fit workforce. Awarded as 101 Top HR Minds (India) 2019 and a certified NLP coach, he is a well-rounded expert in Envisioning, Strategizing and Leading a robust gamut of HR and L&D framework, contributing to both MNC (Wipro & Arvato) & Start-up ecosystem (Ola, LogiNext). A Leader with high Agility & Adaptability quotient, he is passionate about achieving business results through people by imbibing a collaborative work methodology.

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