As a business growth coach, I've worked with dozens of CEOs and their leadership teams on how to scale their business. And while companies who want to grow 50-100 percent a year will consistently face many challenges, finding and developing leadership skills within their teams remains one of the most difficult.
The best strategy in the world will go unrealized if you don't have the right team to implement it. And while it might be easy to find talent with good technical skills, finding good leadership skills is much harder. Unfortunately, without good leaders, you'll be left with a team that struggles with focus and prioritization, and one that lacks the ability to navigate the inevitable change that comes with growth.
I encourage all of my clients to make leadership development a key priority in their business. This will help them to not only grow more quickly, but it will also reduce drama and conflict in the process. Here are five leadership skills that will help you and your team increase your company's leadership quotient.
1. Set clear priorities.
One of your key roles as a leader is to clarify what's important and what's not. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and chaos of a high-growth company. And for most employees, it can feel like everything is important and urgent.
I like to say that is everything is important, and nothing is important. As a leader, you need to sort through all of the distractions and shiny objectives and make it crystal clear to your people what they need to focus on first and foremost.
2. Manage to outcomes.
Great leaders leverage the skills and brainpower of their team. They don't try to micromanage and, instead, give their people space and freedom to figure out the best way to accomplish goals and complete tasks. This not only frees up your time, but it also creates great engagement within your group.
In order to do this effectively, however, you need to be super aware of your desired outcomes. Very often, the reason people micromanage is because they haven't actually taken the time to figure out what they want to come out of the process. A good manager starts with the end in mind, sets a clear definition of success, and then lets their people find the best way to accomplish the work in the most efficient way possible.
3. Delegate more to directs.
Delegation is both a skill and an art. As a leader, it's a critical skill you must master in order to be effective and advance. Failing to delegate well will leave you stuck in your current role and hinder your advancement. You need to move anything that is not your most valuable and strategic work on to your direct reports.
The best way to decide what to delegate is to assess all of your work and tasks and sort them by importance and complexity. Keep your focus on highly important and complex tasks. Then delegate starting with simple and unimportant and work your way up.
4. Develop talent through coaching.
Everyone wants to grow and improve. However, many managers just focus on keeping their people happy and productive in their current positions without a view of the future. True leaders know they need to support education and evolution if they want to keep their people engaged. And the best way to do this is to think like a coach.
Set learning and development goals with your people so they can advance and add more value to the company. Then meet with them regularly to review progress and help them when they're stuck or need resources. Yes, you might need to pay them more when they prove successful, but that's nothing compared to having to recruit to fill senior positions.
5. Engage in critical debate
While everyone wants to play nice on a team and be collaborative, as you move into a leadership role it's important to learn to engage in critical debate. Senior leaders have important skills and experience that need to be shared to make good decisions and create proper plans. Effective leaders don't shy away from conflict; however, they do so while keeping things professional.
Developing leaders at all levels of your organization is a sound investment of your time and energy regardless of your business size and growth ambitions. But if you're hoping to scale significantly and in a short time period, leadership development is not just a nice to have, it's a must do.