As a Senior Noncommissioned Officer for the U.S. Army, one of my many responsibilities was growing leaders. This responsibility was a collective effort throughout the organization. In addition to the daily leadership development provided by noncommissioned officers, the U.S. military has formal training programs for different stages of your career to enhance and further develop your leadership capacity.
The overall program follows four steps that can be used in any business.
You bring in new hires. Every business does this. The “onboarding” process includes the sharing of your vision, mission and values. The business is interpreted in terms of objectives, measures and value. Each business objective is clearly defined with examples. The new hire is instructed on how these objectives are measured, quantifiably and qualitatively. Last, their value is interpreted for them so they can see how they contribute to the overall mission of the organization.
You grow them up. This means you bring them up in the way of your organization. At the beginning you introduce your vision, mission and values. However, you have to have a program in place that reminds and reinforces these three critical aspects of your organization. This must be done during your decision making processes, in the manner in which you conduct meetings; literally every aspect of your daily operations. There are opportunities to remind and reinforce daily. The process strengthens the organization and prepares it for tough times.
You train them. You teach them that failures are inevitable, and there are things you can do to minimize the damage. Just as in battle, casualties will happen, but we learn, grow and improve our sustainability. You must also teach them the behaviors that are expected. You demonstrate this by modeling the values that you will reward because these are the behaviors you expect. Additionally, you train them to fulfill duties of other team members. This allows them to become a force multiplier for you organization. They can easily step up when someone is out for a long duration or when you have an organizational restructure.
You turn them out. You allow your new leader to gain incremental experience in situations where they have chances for success. Leadership is similar to sports; you can only get better with practice. You must allow your new leaders the opportunity to experience leadership. Then evaluate them on the progress. Coach and mentor them along their way. They build confidence by acquiring and applying practical skills.
Leadership is a choice about who you want to become, both you and those leaders you breed. Leading based on The Soldier’s Method© of Values, Valor and Value ensures that leaders are grown with and within the organization’s values, with character to create value for all stakeholders; shareholders, customers, employees and the public.