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Encouraging Emerging Leaders to Charge into Leadership.

Replacing people who leave is a reality in every workplace, and that task has never seemed tougher than it is today. Good decisions when replacing managers are even more critical because the impact of managers goes beyond their own performance. Their actions flow through to the performance and morale of their team. Having Emerging Leaders ready to step into management roles is essential for every organisation, big or small, and that is the topic of this episode of our podcast, Authenticity, Transforming Workplace Culture.

When you recruit externally for a new manager in an entry level leadership position, the learning curve is steep. They need to simultaneously learn or refine:

  • Your organisation and sector from a technical perspective
  • Your workplace culture
  • Leadership skills and strategies (you are unlikely to find an experienced leader to fill an entry level leadership position)

Ready-made successors – Your emerging leaders.

A robust Emerging Leaders process allows organisations to develop ready-made successors from within the organisation. These people already know the organisation and sector and they have lived the workplace culture. Presumably they represent the ideal culture you are trying to create. If they don’t, take them of the list of candidates.

This means they can focus on the thing that challenges new managers most – developing the leadership skills and strategies they need to deal with the people they lead. In fact, if you have created a robust Emerging Leaders process, one that bridges the gap between leadership and management, they will have been developing these skills before they needed them, which means they are ready when the opportunity comes.

emerging leaders

Mistake or choice?

The message isn’t that recruiting leaders from outside the organisation is a bad thing. A person new to the organisation can bring fresh perspectives, promote positive change and enhance innovation. It just shouldn’t be your only option because of a lack of emerging leaders within your organisation.

emerging leaders

Our regular features.

The Good, The Bad and The What-The!

Elon Musk, aka The Tosser from Tesla, was at it again in the past week, abusing a worker with a disability, who may or may not have been sacked. Even the Director of People & Culture wasn’t able to confirm whether the team member, a person with a long standing record of meaningful contributions, was still employed.  After abusing, disparaging, and questioning the integrity of the team member (via Twitter of course), Musk was forced to concede he may have mis-read the situation. His takeaway from the situation? ‘Better to talk to people than communicate via tweet.’ There’s hope for you yet, Elon!

The Resource.

Simon spotted a poem about leadership during the week – a reminder to be true to yourself as a leader instead of trying to fit the image that others may have of you.

It is called Talking to The Wild and was written by Becky Hemsley.

Words of Authenticity.

A great observation by Kirralea during the interview – and reflecting on Dylan’s willingness to be vulnerable with his team: “It can be the moments when we feel we may be being less of a manager that we actually become more of a manager.”

The interviews – a very human story.

Kirralea interviewed three people from R&J Batteries, Australia’s fastest growing battery company, with more than 27 company-owned stores and 8,000 stockists and distributors across Australia & New Zealand.

Each of the three people played a pivotal role in the implementation of an Emerging Leaders program that produced ready made leaders to fill vacancies.  

Kirralea mentioned that systems are failing if you always have to recruit leaders from outside an organisation. The program that R&J ran created opportunities for people to be leaders before they became leaders.

The three people involved in the interview were:

  • Jo Preece, National Training Manager
  • Glenn Kennedy, Beresfield Branch Manager
  • Dylan Smith, Team Member at Beresfield and participant in the Emerging Leaders program

Drivers for the Emerging Leaders program.

From an organisational perspective, Jo talked about the workload involved with having to bring multiple people up to speed when they didn’t know the organisation or the culture and, in some cases, were new to leadership. They recognised that many of their people were born to manage but needed to learn to lead.

Having decided to run the program, Jo ran an EOI that was open to anyone in the business, regardless of role or experience. The goal  was to identify people with the right motivations for being in the program and who showed leadership potential. They capped the program at twelve participants to ensure individual engagement and senior leadership had a role in the final selections.

Glenn supported Dylan in his EOI because he believed he had the qualities that created a base for him to be a good leader. He was excited that this was available for both the Emerging Leaders and also for managers who could use it to grow their people.

Dylan was ready to stretch himself and wanted to really apply himself to the program. He was practising leadership before he had the title – something he realised during the program. It was nerve wracking coming into the program but he took ‘baby steps’ by taking leadership roles within his team.

The biggest predictor of success.

Throughout the program, eight participants had significant support from managers. All eight made meaningful progress – more on this later.

Of the four who didn’t have meaningful support, only one made significant progress.

The implication? You can send people of to any sort of training but without proactive leadership support and buy-in it will be significantly less effective.

Bringing it together during the program.

Glenn saw himself as part of the Dylan’s learning journey. He provided time and space to apply what he had learned. When opportunities arose, even though it felt like the deep end, Dylan stepped up and thrived.

Glenn provided guidance but also space for Dylan to put his own spin on the way he approached situations and allowed him to make them work with his own style.

Copy of Is workplace culture worth the time and effort (1128 × 191 px)

For Dylan, the training and coaching helped solidify his desire to pursue a leadership role. The support from Glenn made a big difference

The outcome. Result!

When an opportunity at state manager level came up, Glenn applied and was appointed – the way he supported Dylan through the Emerging Leaders program (and with his growth in general) shows why.

Dylan was appointed as branch manager to replace Glenn. He was nervous going into the role, especially going from working alongside the team to leading the same group of people. That step was difficult but the leadership he had already been practising made the transition easier. There have been a lot of one on one discussions to talk through the challenges – and Dylan has coached and pointed people in the right direction rather than over directing or giving the answers. He feels he and the team worked through the challenges together.

Putting leadership layers over the interactions he was having as a team member, helped him practice leadership everyday rather than having such a steep change going into the role

An insight into Glenn as a leader – even though he has moved to a different state and is no longer Dylan’s line manager, he has stayed in touch and continued to provide support. They still talk sometimes three times each week.

For Glenn it was exciting to go into state manager role knowing he had someone to fill the role. After ten years in the role, it was ‘his baby’ and he wanted to make sure he handed over to someone who would look after it.

From an organisational perspective, Jo revelled in seeing opportunities being created – and taken – and careers being enhanced. As we were putting this episode together, a second participant was appointed to a branch manager role – the ROI from investing in Emerging Leaders can be immense when all factors are considered: recruitment expenses, time with a position unfilled, risk of a poor choice, etc.

A final word from Dylan

It hasn’t always been easy but Dylan has focused on being really open with the team. He isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, and is OK not being the manager all the time.

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Got a question for the Podcast? You can drop us a voice message via Instagram or email us at: authenticity@reallearning.com.au

Thanks to our Podcasting producer, Josh at Deadset Podcasting for all his work behind the scenes.

Thanks for listening!