By Riley Cooper
Small business owners sometimes fail to identify the talent within their ranks because they are busy and may even underestimate the power that a highly motivated employee/leader can have in a firm’s growth.
The day-to-day tasks of running a business often seem too important to neglect in exchange for quality time with the people that could eventually take over crucial roles in your organization. However, the fact is that mentorship is one of the most powerful tools that leaders of a growing businesses have at their disposal.
With that in mind, business consultant Jasdeep Singh has compiled a list of 5 steps that small business owners can follow to train and empower the next generation of leaders in their organization.
Step #1 – Recognize them
Business owners are usually very involved in the day-to-day operations of their companies. This knowledge of the work and employees can facilitate the task of identifying who among the team has the potential to become a leader.
In this regard, it is the owners’ responsibility to recognize these people and to communicate to them their intention to mentor them and guide them. In these conversations, the owners should be specific as to the identified characteristics that make the employee a promising candidate for a leadership role.
This recognition is a powerful form of positive reinforcement that incentivizes the employee, and, in most cases, will translate into higher levels of productivity, proactivity, and efficiency.
Step #2 – Inspire them with a bold vision
Businesses need a vision, similar to how people need goals to stay motivated.
A vision is a bold statement that aims to portray the company’s values as well as where it wants to be in the future.
Dr. Singh, who holds a Master in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut, believes that a well understood vision can be used to inspire these potential leaders during the mentorship. The goal is that the employees align themselves with this vision and assume it as part of their own journey.
Step #3 – Let them watch you
The easiest way to teach someone is to let them observe what you want them to learn.
There are a few things in business that cannot be taught in a classroom, such as the way you feel a room when entering a negotiation table, or some effective ways of dealing with difficult situations in the workplace. We all make mistakes in these “soft skill” areas, so the more experience future leader get the better off they will be from the start.
If you want to shape the future leaders of your small business in a way that will support and enhance your own work, as well as the company’s, then first-hand knowledge is essential. All businesses need differences among the leaders to build effective teams, but small businesses also need a great deal of cohesion due to their size, and letting future leaders get a feel for your daily work will show them how the company actually runs.
Step #4 – Acknowledge their achievements and provide feedback if they fail
Positive reinforcement is important in the process of mentoring a future leader – especially if their achievements have been remarkable.
However, any situation in which the person fails to accomplish a goal or fulfill a certain important task should be used as a valuable teaching opportunity. These are critical learning moments where the mentee can engage with the leader in some self-reflection as well as receive specific feedback to guide their thinking towards ways to improve.
These teaching moments usually leave a long-lasting footprint in the person’s mind and they help in shaping the way they act, think, and respond to similar situations in the future. If they do not respond well to feedback during these times, then they have shown their fixed mindset and may not be a good addition to a leadership team.
Step #5 – Provide the necessary tools for them to succeed
The goal of a mentor is to see the mentee succeed.
In this regard, it is important that future business leaders be assured that you are on their side, that it is your goal that they succeed, and they will have the tools and space to do so.
For example, the promising leader could be involved in delegating key assignments as well as corresponding resources. While it may make owners nervous to turn over such authority to another person, such actions will ultimately benefit the employee as well as the company.
Without practice, and the appropriate tools and skills, leaders aren’t developed, they are stymied.
A final word
Mentoring future business leaders within a small organization could sound like a of lost time, but this mindset couldn’t be further from the truth.
Business owners need to be focused on ensuring their company achieves long-term sustainability and success. To be able to scale up, the firm will need leaders who are willing and ready to support such growth. These well-trained leaders will likely become some of the most important individuals within the company and be able to quickly add value.