Many organizations have leadership training to improve and focus the skills of managers. These are great programs that help managers become better leaders. This in turn strengthens the overall performance of an organization. That’s great, right?
More times than not, you will find that these leadership training courses are limited to those that are already managers. On top of that, this is the first leadership training the managers have had….Ever! Managers should be leaders before they are managers. Remember that all great leaders can manage, but all great managers cannot lead.
Developing leadership training for entry-level employees are important for several reasons.
- Loyalty: Employees are not as loyal to their organizations as they were two decades ago. Although turnover rates, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, has stabilized, this does not mean that loyalty has increased. If a company did a quick survey they would see that many employees would leave if given another opportunity. Now do you think that employees have much to take into consideration when these other opportunities come along? Is it just a simple decision between staying and making $10 per hour or going and make $15 per hour? When a company invests more than just money on all employees and not just managers, I believe there is a lot for an employee to consider. It could show that the company is loyal to their employees. So imagine, if you begin developing employees into leaders from the beginning. You are now grooming your future leaders, not managers. You see, leaders think differently and understand true opportunity. These new leaders will provide you with the ability to focus on your business growth and strategy more than the entry-level revolving door.
- Motivation: Daily routine gets boring and decreases moral over time. They can do the tasks blindfolded and are no longer challenged. Soon they lose focus and little mistakes are made accidentally. Next, the mistake is made on purpose to see if anyone notices or even cares. Eventually, your business begins to suffer the effects of “stagnation.” This is when nothing changes. Employees get the job done, but improvement never happens. When you look at reports and metrics you can see phenomenal performance and results and the numbers do not lie; however, a question still remains. Why is the organization not growing and moving forward? These last few years have left companies with a very convenient excuse: “It’s because of the economy.” The answer is closer to home than you think. Your organization is not growing because your “Leaders” are standing still. True leaders never stop growing. And their growth is like a motivating contagion. Infecting everyone the leader comes into contact with. Causing those around that leader continue to grow and look for ways to improve — not because of obligation, but due to dedication. Leaders develop leaders. So, when your company is not motivated and moving forward, look inward and see if your “Leaders” are out front. It is hard to lead from behind those following you.
- Ownership: In many organizations you will see issues that get pushed around and never truly get resolved. Not because it is a difficult issue to solve, but only because no one takes ownership of the issue to see it through to resolution. This often times comes out of the fear of repercussion if their decisions are wrong. Other times it is because it is someone else’s responsibility. True leaders take ownership of an issue, make a decision, and pass along any information that will prevent this issue from re-occurring. And yes, they will take the blame if the decision is wrong. Now imagine leaders at the lower level of an organization. Managers no longer have to deal with the little issues and can focus on management issues and employees are developing leadership skills and strengthening their ability to solve problems. They are not applying for management. They are growing into it!
- Advancement: Many times you will lose great people because there is not an opportunity for advancement. It is important to understand that leaders are always improving. They are always looking for the best way to utilize their talents and opportunities to lead. Advancing to the next level is an opportunity for the leader to see improvement and understand that the company appreciates their hard work. However, many times managers are not advancing to the next level because those above them are not advancing. This causes an invisible ceiling at the ground floor. Those in this situation see the only way for advancement is to go to another company, possibly a direct competitor. This loss is due to stagnation of leaders in the uppermost levels. This causes those fresh new ideas that every organization looks for to walk right out the door to another organization. When looking from the top of an organizational chart, you should not see that your key managers are not advancing. Yes, they have been with the company a long time. Yes, they have invested a lot of time and energy making the company great. And yes, you have become great friends with them. But is your company growing? You need to understand that in today’s business environment, if you are not growing, you are shrinking. Do not let managers dig in their heals and stifle your company’s growth.
There are many more reasons why it is important to train leaders at the lower levels of organizations, but these four are the main points. The purpose of every business is to grow and make money. If your people are not growing, your business is not growing with solid, strong roots. And without strong roots, every storm that may come can knock you down.