127: [Ask Halelly] “How can I develop myself and my team to be future-ready leaders?” on the TalentGrow Show with Halelly Azulay

ep 127 Ask Halelly solo How can i develop myself and my team to be future ready leaders on the TalentGrow Show with Halelly Azulay

One of the biggest challenges that all employees have today is staying future-ready and employable. One of the biggest challenges leaders and managers have today is creating future-ready employees and leaders. How can you navigate a workplace that is changing at the speed of technology, anticipate the skills and development you and your employees will need in the future, and keep employees engaged, retaining them through times of change?

Here’s another Ask Halelly episode of the TalentGrow Show, where I answer a question from a listener, a member of the audience at one of my conference speaking events, a learner in one of my corporate workshops, or a member of the media. I share 5 ways to develop yourself and your team to be future-ready leaders. Take a listen, weigh in with your own opinion, and share with others!

Question:  One of the biggest challenges that all employees have today is staying future-ready and employable. One of the biggest challenges leaders and managers have today is creating future-ready employees and leaders. How can I navigate a workplace that is changing at the speed of technology, anticipate the skills and development my employees and I will need in the future, and keep employees engaged, retaining them through times of change?

Halelly’s Answer: First of all… While we can all think of the costs that companies face when they have invested in employees who leave too early, I think that the real loss is when companies continue to ignore the reality, lament its consequences, or pretend it’s not the case: today’s employees are no longer willing or interested to stay in one job for a long time.

This is misguided thinking. Those days are over, done, gone.

What companies should really do instead is redesign their strategy and employment approach to adapt to this new world order.

Having said that, there are certainly ways to enhance engagement and extend your retention of top talent within this new reality.

One of the main reasons employees leave companies is that they don’t feel like they are growing and developing and/or don’t see many development opportunities on the horizon with that company.

The other main reason employees leave: bad managers.

Bad news: Both of these problems are the employer’s problems to own and fix, not the employee’s.

Good news: they are solvable.

Today, I’ll share some actionable ideas to help you with this quest.

5 Ways to Develop Yourself and Your Team to Be Future-Ready Leaders

As you’re working to be a future-ready leader and develop future-ready leaders on your team, here are my top five suggestions:

1.     Grow your leadership skills, grow their leadership skills, and put greater focus on learning and development on the job.

To help managers become the kind of leaders people actually want to follow, companies need to give them opportunities to grow their leadership skills rather than just use the ‘sink-or-swim’ approach to grow management and leadership skills.

Yeah, training programs can help. But they are insufficient.

There are lots of ways to grow leadership skills outside the training classroom such as using a volunteering role outside the company to grow leadership skills, pairing up with a mentor, or even serving as a mentor before they’re promoted so that they can hone their leadership skills and be better ready for the promotion.

In my book, Employee Development on a Shoestring, I described 11 different non-training development methods. I described some of these ideas in a short ‘vlog’ titled Leadership Development Outside the Classroom.

To create more general development opportunities for employees, leaders should also think outside the classroom and outside the box.

Mentoring, special projects or teams, and social learning opportunities are just three examples of ways that employers can create non-training, low-budget development opportunities for all employees. Again, I describe 11 of these ideas in my book, and you may also enjoy reading the many helpful blog posts about some of these methods I’ve posted previously on my blog, such as Employee Development Outside the Box!, The Surprising Truth About Why Money Doesn't Matter in Employee Development, and Training is Dead; Long Live Employee Development.

2.     Engage in frequent, regular, short conversations with each employee about their aspirations, goals, challenges, motivation, development interests, strengths, current performance, and more.

Learn as much as you can about how to support their development in a way that best suits them. Many managers make the mistake of saving up these conversations for quarterly or semi-annual performance reviews, and that’s a huge mistake. Great performance never comes from a ‘set-it and forget-it’ approach.

Talking about how your people can develop themselves cannot happen only once a year. Talk to them about their development goals at the beginning of the year, create a plan, and then create multiple check-in opportunities (formal and informal) to see how they’re doing and how you can help.

(I recommend you check out my blog, vlog, and podcast all about the 10 conversations every leader should have with every employee.)

3.     Encourage employees to be self-directed, life-long learners seeking to continually develop themselves.

Change is the only constant, and the rate of change is increasing. To be functional and to be successful, leaders and employees alike must develop good habits for pursuing ongoing self-development. They must not rely on their employers to take care of their growth – it is their skillset that is their main value proposition, their ‘product’, their differentiator.

Becoming self-directed learners and seeking development opportunities within and outside their current role will help them not just be employed but remain employable.

(Enjoy this vlog I made about How to Be Indispensable as an Employee or a Leader.)

4.     Encourage employees to be authentic and strategic networkers and build and nurture mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships.

Although it’s not a new skill, relationships and the breadth and depth of your network will become even more important in the world where 6 degrees of separation is a fast-shrinking number. Opportunities are often discovered by those who are better networked than their competition.

In addition to having access to resources, opportunities, and connections through a rich and diversified network of REAL connections (people who you’re actually friends with), you also increase your value because of the ‘network effect’ – you can make connections between seemingly disparate fields and ideas to create new ideas and add real value to your work as a result.

I’ve blogged and podcasted about it. One particularly germane episode is episode 18 in which Michael Simmons and I discuss the value of networking with people outside your industry and field and being the bridge. These people, called “expert generalists” or “brokers” accelerate their career success by 65% and increase their own learning and the value they offer to their employers, employees, and clients.

5.     Actively work on keeping abreast of trends and changes in your industry, your competitors, innovations in technology, and changes in your customers’ needs and wants, and encourage your employees to do the same.

The more you dedicate some time daily, weekly, or at least monthly to educating yourself and being ‘out there’ to observe and absorb new developments and changes, the better able you will be to gain a strategic advantage and a big-picture sense of what’s on the horizon. You’ll need to also engage in active reflection about these observations and insights to draw connections to your current and future workplace. This will then position you for staying ahead of the game. Then take action to keep your employees on the cutting edge and engaged, too.

Sum up

So there you have it. My 5 ways to develop yourself and your team to be future-ready leaders are:

1.     Grow your leadership skills, grow their leadership skills, and put greater focus on learning and development on the job.

2.     Engage in frequent, regular, short conversations with each employee about their aspirations, goals, challenges, motivation, development interests, strengths, current performance, and more.

3.     Encourage employees to be self-directed, life-long learners seeking to continually develop themselves.

4.     Encourage employees to be authentic and strategic networkers and build and nurture mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships.

5.     Actively work on keeping abreast of trends and changes in your industry, your competitors, innovations in technology, and changes in your customers’ needs and wants, and encourage your employees to do the same.

YOUR TURN:

  • What’s your biggest A-ha or takeaway from this episode?

  • What other ideas do you have for becoming a more future-ready leader and helping your team do the same?

  • Would you like to submit a question for a future “Ask Halelly” episode? You can use the voice messaging widget right here on the website and then I can even play your audio (with your permission, of course) on the episode! Or you can send me an email, or a ‘contact us’ form on this site, or a comment-based question, or a tweet…. You get the picture. Anyway you like it, I would love to hear your question!

About Halelly Azulay

Have we met? I'm Halelly Azulay. I'm an author, speaker, facilitator, and leadership development strategist and an expert in leadership, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. I am the author of two books, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ATD Press) and Strength to Strength: How Working from Your Strengths Can Help You Lead a More Fulfilling Life. My books, workshops and retreats build on my 20+ years of professional experience in communication and leadership development in corporate, government, nonprofit and academic organizations.

I am the president of TalentGrow LLC, a consulting company focused on developing leaders and teams, especially for enterprises experiencing explosive growth or expansion. TalentGrow specializes in people leadership skills, which include communication skills, teambuilding, coaching and emotional intelligence. TalentGrow works with all organizational levels, including C-level leaders, frontline managers, and individual contributors.

People hire me to speak at conferences and meetings and to facilitate leadership workshops, but what I love most is to help fast growing organizations create a leadership development strategy and approach.

I'm a contributing author to numerous books, articles and blogs. I was described as a “Leadership Development Guru” by TD Magazine. I blog, publish a leadership podcast (um, hello?!), and have a popular free weekly subscription newsletter – so you should definitely sign up at www.tinyurl.com/talentgrow.