As we settle into 2017, business leadership remains a challenge and a pressing concern for many Southeast Asian companies. According to one source, a remarkable 97 percent of Southeast Asian businesses and HR leaders believe leadership to be their top business issue. The same study revealed a 60 percent capability gap between the importance of leadership development and the readiness of companies to deal with this area.
To further clarify the problem at hand, 48 percent of Asia Pacific employers have faced difficulty in filling positions (specifically where executive and management roles are concerned) and only 26 percent of Asia’s leaders believe their successors are ready for promotion. Forbes itself has pointed to Asia’s skills shortage problem, claiming the issue is most prominent in Japan and India.
The reason business leaders are concerned is that they are well aware of the role, leaders play when it comes to organisational efficiency and productivity. Leaders are able to provide workforce with a clear vision, resolve employee conflict and motivate performance. Without skilled, dedicated leaders, a company is unable to fulfil its true potential.
Fortunately, there are certain organisational changes that can be put in place to encourage and promote the leaders of tomorrow.
Current managers should take a step back
When an employee approaches a manager for help on a task, that manager can both take over and complete the task themselves, or they can provide the employee with help and guidance. Though the manager would likely complete the objective in a shorter timeframe, by taking over rather than delegating, they are also depriving employees of the opportunity to learn and grow.
In order to become leaders, employees need to be pushed, they need to be given space to develop skills and they need to struggle to a certain extent. By allocating more responsibility little by little, the employee develops independence and confidence in their ability.
Leadership development programme
When companies are seeking to encourage leadership in their employees, executive coaching and leadership development programmes are popular choices. Leadership development programmes in particular have been known to seriously drive efficiency, with one study demonstrating that 65percent companies with such a programme saw an improvement in business results.
The same study shows that 86 percent of organisations with a leadership development programme are more able to respond to changing market conditions, compared to those without such a scheme.
Leadership development programmes work by providing employees with education on leadership styles and characteristics, while teaching them how to deal with daily challenges faced by senior management. Top-level management requires a certain set of special skills — not all of which come naturally, but they can all be taught and encouraged with the right resources.
Encourage networking and socialising
Leadership isn’t all about motivating your existing team. It’s about forging new connections, initiating conversation, building trust and compromising. Employees should be encouraged to develop new business relationships and networking is a fantastic way to exercise all of these skills. Give your employees the opportunity to network and even the most reserved individuals in your workforce will begin to grow in confidence.
Challenge them with stretching goals and unfamiliar jobs
True leaders challenge themselves. When your employees create their own SMART objectives, encourage them to set goals that are stretching, but not impossible. What is important is they are always pushing themselves further. Even if employees fail, they will learn valuable lessons that will improve future performance.
Place an emphasis on team development
Huffington Post recently listed team development as one of the four top leadership trends of 2017, stating that team activities are “a rich minefield for… leadership skills and development.” An employee can only develop the leadership skills required when they take part in team activities and work alongside others.
This will help them learn how to encourage and motivate their teammates. Regardless of how skilled or productive an employee is, unless they are able to unite their team to work towards a given mission, they won’t be able to lead effectively.
Create a mentoring programme
When it comes to encouraging leadership, a typical approach within successful organisations is to institute a mentoring programme. In these situations, employees are paired with more senior employees.
According to HBR’s Anthony K. T Jan, mentoring programmes are a great way to secure returns on investment. Such a situation will help management determine what skills can and should be developed. These programmes also expose employees to new ways of thinking and offer a great source of advice and encouragement.
Prioritise employee engagement
Employees who are engaged are more enthusiastic about both their role within the organisation and the organisation as a whole. These are the types of people who will go above and beyond what is expected. They are motivated to advance and better themselves.
Engagement is the basic foundation of leadership development. If employees are disillusioned with their position in the company or their own abilities, they are going to stagnate. However, if they are engaged and driven, they will develop pertinent skills and consistently improve. In which case you can be rest assured that your company will be in the hands of a group of leaders, who genuinely care about your organisation’s vision.
About the Author:
Nick Davis, Director at Davis Associates, is a business psychology guru with a keen interest in organisational change and culture. Nick has helped clients across the globe achieve greater individual, team and organisational performance.