How to identify and nurture great leaders

Last updated on January 20, 2020

For startups and small businesses, unearthing the hidden talent within an organisation is crucial. Not only can it help accelerate growth and increase productivity and profitability, but it can also help develop a clear career path.

However, in many cases, startups tend to hire via expensive agencies and job boards instead of focusing on training and developing their existing employees.

Of course, training and developing employees is much easier said than done. Emerging startups are not always blessed with huge budgets. Consequently, assigning a significant amount of money to develop current employees is unlikely to be high up the list of priorities.

However, understanding how they can successfully identify employees with the potential to become great leaders is not easy. Leaders come in different guises and knowing how to spot and nurture them can be tricky and time-consuming.

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers and that people flourish when they are praised."

Richard Branson

Let the hunt begin...

👉 The traits to look for

Before you start your hunt for the hidden gems inside your business, you’ll need to take a step back and establish what constitutes good leadership material.

Ask yourself what top talent means to you and your business and what characteristics or behaviours will they need to succeed.

You will need to develop a talent management strategy. This will allow you to have consistency across the board and offer you the ability to measure employees against your new benchmarks.

👉 The art of finding hidden gems in your business

Finding potential leaders and emerging talent in your business is not as straightforward as it seems. It is important to understand that the process should never be based on hierarchy. You’re building for the future and not for today.

So, make sure you set your sights on individuals with potential for further growth rather than good/ok team members.

You’ll need to identify employees with a natural ability to inspire those around them, as well as those who have your desired skillsets and the ability to lead from the front.

Useful tips 🧠

👉 Clearly communicate with all stakeholders throughout the recruitment process

👉 Establish how you’ll measure potential in your employees

👉 Find a link between current and potential performance

👉 Identify, monitor and develop employees with key skills or high potential

For your strategy to work, you’ll need all the major stakeholders within the business to buy into it. Make sure that everyone understands the value of identifying and developing talent from within your organisation. The talent management process should be part of every manager’s toolkit. Countless businesses lose amazing staff due to their inability to identify and foster talent.

Key traits of leaders

👉 They’re inclusive and encourage people to share their ideas

How many times have you heard an employee or friend moan about a manager stealing their work or taking the credit for their idea?

It’s very common and usually points to the fact that most managers are not leaders and have little to no leadership skills.

A great leader will encourage their team to share ideas and give them the recognition they deserve. They’re also more likely to be confident in their own ability and are unlikely to be threatened by less established but high-performing members in the team.

👉 They’re team players

A natural-born leader is more inclined to put the needs of their team first. They’re not there to be the star of the show; instead, they’re there to offer mentorship and coaching.

Leaders will often use words such as “us, ours and we” rather than “mine, me and I” and true leaders have a natural ability to inspire and motivate those around them. Their teams are often hard-working because they’re motivated to be so.

👉They manage themselves

There is a well-known turn of phrase: “A leader leads. A manager follows.”

Leaders will often stand out from the crowd and march to the beat of their own drum. They’re usually independent thinkers with ideas that challenge the status quo.

One noticeable trait is their ability to get on with projects without the constant need for feedback or encouragement from their superiors.

👉 They thrive on getting the job done

Leaders take pride in their job output and stop at nothing to complete tasks to the highest standards. They’re not box tickers; leaders work tirelessly to ensure each project is completed before moving on to the next one.

👉 They look out for others, not just themselves

People who are successful in leadership roles care about their team and seek to help where possible. A common theme with natural born leaders is that they’re not afraid to allow others to shine.

Maximising potential

So, you’ve identified the stars of the future—but how do you maximise their potential and increase the likelihood of them succeeding?

👉Nurture emerging talent

One of the best ways to nurture emerging talent is through structured training. To have structured training in place, you’ll most likely need a robust talent management strategy.

A good talent management strategy will set out goals and objectives that benefit both the business and the employees.

Your talent management strategy will enhance your staff's overall quality and act as an attractive proposition for prospective employees.

👉 Set out clear and definable goals

Your talent management programme must be individually tailored to get the most out of each staff member.

You’ll also need to assess and define areas of weakness and potential. Once they’ve all been individually assessed, you can set their goals.

Goals and targets are important; however, you must set ones that can be measured easily. Here are a few examples.

  • Improve communication skills

  • Increase productivity rates

  • Improve leadership skills

  • Improve time management

  • Introduce people management training

  • Conflict management training

👉 Don’t forget to give them a pat on the back

This sounds very simple and in theory, it should be. However, over a third of employees say that they don’t feel valued by their boss in the UK.

Recognising employee achievements and success stories will help you to boost morale within your team. Don’t forget that when giving recognition, you should praise both individual and team successes.

So, patting your employees on the back, no matter how small or big their success, will make them feel more motivated and confident in their own abilities. Most importantly, it will show them that the business as a whole appreciates them.

How we nurture leaders at PayFit

At PayFit, we don’t look at age or experience when identifying whether someone is suited to a managerial role.

The most important traits we look for are those that are aligned with our values; care, humility, excellence and passion.

Since PayFit was founded in 2016, we have worked hard to nurture and cultivate values that we live and work by daily.

This is why when we recruit new people, we look to measure prospective candidates against these values.

We also look to provide realistic and achievable targets to managers. The average age of a manager at PayFit is just 30 years old. As a result, we appreciate that many of them are just dipping their toes into their managerial career.

Consequently, we look to support new managers with training and development programmes that will enable them to achieve both their own professional goals and those of the teams that they lead.

Finally, we also believe that there is far more to PayFit than just payroll and HR software. We believe that work is about much more than just turning up, working hard and then heading home again.

We want all employees to feel valued and respected in their roles. This is why we look to provide opportunities for them to develop both personally and professionally through schemes such as volunteering or providing free language lessons.

PayFit is a payroll and HR platform that helps companies optimise their processes. Interested in finding out more? Book a demo with one of our product specialists today!

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