Encouraging Employee Leadership Best Practices

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It’s been a while since we did a leadership piece, because frankly, I figured I’d explored more or less all there was to say about this for the time. Naturally, as new issues arise or new theories arise, I’d be right there talking about them. I’m less keen, though, to repeat myself. But, I noticed that I totally haven’t talked about encouraging employee leadership like, at all. Given the current climate in which almost every aspect of a business is getting its procedural model severely reworked to be more cooperative and social, this is an increasingly important topic. In fact, given the newest training trends, encouraging employee leadership is probably ideal to talk about exactly now. Serendipitous is it not? Why It Matters More Now: Once upon a time, cultivating leadership mentality, competence and motivation among employees served limited purpose, given the structure of the time, in which cooperation and social connectivity among combined effort workers was far less sophisticated and harnessed. The biggest goal of this, back in the day, was to groom new management and project leadership candidates by teething them on smaller responsibility with less risk first. Oh, it definitely still works out for that, but that’s no longer the driving point behind it. The other old primary purpose was to alleviate some of the demand on the “true” leadership roles. It was not unlike having an older child learn to keep an eye on the younger ones so that some of your time is freed up to handle other things. Again, it’s still helpful there, but that’s not the driving point behind this now, either. So, what is? The New Society: The internet has done and continues to shape a new society in many ways, from the one we once lived in. The individual as part of a machine concept of the workplace is shifting more towards a self-aware organic network of people sharing responsibilities, taking initiative and shedding the strict hierarchy of the past. With concepts like gamification, equal cooperation group structures and the like becoming very much standard practice (at long last), you’re going to need to rethink who needs leadership – everyone does in such a model. How to Encourage It: Encouraging leadership starts with doing so within training itself. Dividing the trainees into smaller groups whom cooperate globally to a greater goal, and within each of which, leadership gets passed in a circle over time is the main practice done. Beyond that, it’s all about teaching confidence in one’s ability to make decisions, and expect to not have to defend them beyond professional candor. There’s no real general way to do that, as it depends on the personalities involved. In light of that, I encourage you to get to know everyone being trained, and learn what it takes to instill that kind of confidence in them. Along with that, some basic training on how to earn trust and confidence from others, which is more teachable, is also very helpful. Sadly, when it comes to encouraging employee leadership, while it’s really important, there’s not much more advice I can give this time around. Perhaps next time, we can look over common models for implementing this, what few there are.

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Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog