3 Ways to Develop into a Next Generation Leader

Lifelong learning a trait of winning leadersAny business will struggle to survive if it doesn’t make adequate investments in developing its next generation of leaders. That development process should start early and be intentional. And even if an organization doesn’t have a formal process, there are a variety of activities the next generation of leaders can proactively engage in with the support of senior management that will ultimately benefit the entire organization.

Here are three activities that can help you develop into an effective next generation leader.

Follow good role models

There is no substitute for experience. Spending time with more experienced leaders inside or even outside your organization can be extremely useful. These mentors can provide perspective and insight into matters that may be new to a younger manager. They can also help you navigate sensitive situations.

Some businesses have more formalized mentoring programs in which a younger team member is paired up with a more experienced leader. But keep in mind that having more than one role model is important, so seek out others in addition to your formal mentor. Choose people who possess attributes that will compliment your own. For example, if you are shy, seek out someone who can work a crowded room and attend a few events together. This gives you an opportunity to observe their behaviors and ask
for suggestions. Then you can implement some of the lessons you learned at your next event.

Educate yourself

There are a variety of activities that a young manager can benefit from participating in. Companies that take time to create development plans with their employees not only improve the skills of those individuals, but often see lower turnover. But that process should be led by you because, after all, it’s your career.

Leadership courses such as those offered by Dale Carnegie can be an effective way to tackle various aspects of leadership over a period of several weeks. Looking for something more challenging? Many universities and colleges now have specific leadership classes or certifications you can pursue. Need flexibility with time? There are many books written on the topic of leadership by authors such as John Maxwell. Lastly, joining a local next generation peer group can provide insight and a sounding board on a variety of topics as you move up the career ladder.

Be your own advocate

Last but not least, a true leader needs to take control of their own destiny. Waiting for things to happen will be frustrating and, frankly, a waste of time. Patience is certainly a virtue, but when it comes to advancing your career, you need to be willing to speak up about your intentions and ask for help
and feedback. A business can provide support, but only you can make changes in your behavior and actions.

There are certainly more than three activities that will propel you forward into your organization’s next generation of effective leaders, but starting sooner on the development process will allow for more options down the line.

Steven E. Staugaitis can be reached at sstaugaitis@kmco.com or 215.441.4600.

You may also like: