The following is the third in a series of five questions and corresponding answers on leadership. (See questions #1 How to Motivate and Inspire Others? & #2 What is the biggest Challenge for Leaders?).
3. What steps or strategies do you use to develop others?
The first step is to understand what people want for themselves. I always ask my direct reports, where do you want to be in 5 years? It’s surprising how many leaders simply assume they know where people want to go. I want to know what they are passionate about. Why do they work here? Then I ask, how can I help you get there? I may offer suggestions, but I like to hear what they have to say first. If they come up with the development activity or plan, they are much more committed to it.
Once you establish the 3-5 year goal, then it is important to establish more immediate goals. What are they going to work on in the next 3-6 months? How can we measure progress? Once the short-term goals are established, then comes the really hard part (at least for me), and that is on-going feedback. People need feedback to improve. As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide feedback to the people who work for you. They deserve to know how they are doing. For feedback to work it needs to be delivered at, or close to, the time of observation.