WHAT DO FUTURE LEADERS LOOK LIKE?
True leadership skills must be learned and practiced before they become second nature. So what do future leaders look like and how can you help them to develop their skills?
Some members of your team will be high performers but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be natural leaders. An individual’s past performance is a measure of their ability and expertise, but you need to look beyond performance to understand an employee’s appetite to grow, to develop others, to articulate a vision and communicate a strategy.
Potential future leaders will display a high degree of interest in the firm’s objectives, and engage in its future plans and strategy. Consider whether they proactively contribute good ideas and take ownership for delivering those ideas.
The best business leaders seek out challenges, enjoy learning and tend to explore new approaches to their work in order to find better ways of doing things.
Potential leaders have to be able to build a team and influence colleagues at various levels across a business. People tend to gravitate to leaders who will coach them to success. So look for coaching and mentoring competencies, and listen for coaching stories by other employees, to evaluate the future leadership potential of your key team members.
Where possible, it is better to grow your own talent in-house. The cost of
retaining and developing your existing team is lower than hiring from the outside. Creating an in-house leadership development program is a good way to evaluate your high-potential team members.
CREATING A LEARNING CULTURE IN YOUR FIRM
Creating a learning culture in your business involves a lot more than finding the right mix of training courses and seminars.
It’s about creating a mindset among your team. Leading businesses such as Apple, Google, SAP, American Express have embraced learning cultures and tend to outperform their competitors in their respective market sectors. So how do you create a learning culture in your firm?
Establish a link between learning and performance appraisals.
Your employees need to understand that ongoing learning and development is highly valued and that a capacity to engage in learning is an essential part of their role. Each team member should be set a learning and development objective at the beginning of the year and their performance against that objective should be measured as part of their mid year and end of year appraisals.
Integrate learning into day-to-day operations.
Team members should be encouraged to apply new learning to their jobs. Once links between learning, performance and outcomes are established, managers can support the learning by following up regularly on what employees are doing differently, what improvements they have made to processes, etc.
Make learning a strategic initiative rather than an administrative task.
Learning and development can be used to increase employee engagement and productivity. The best businesses create a robust, ongoing performance management process that fosters collaboration between employees and managers and makes learning from feedback part of everyday life. Give team members the tools to identify skills gaps themselves and empower them to find new learning opportunities.
Identify subject-matter experts.
Another way to deliver learning opportunities is to harness the skills and knowledge of subject matter experts within your business and implement knowledge-sharing programs. With this approach, you can link learning activities with core objectives and measure the impact it has on your business, the productivity of your team, etc.
Employees may see their relationship with employers as reciprocal (even more so with younger generations such as Millennials). They expect access to learning opportunities as a partner in the two-way street. As such, businesses can hold employees accountable for their own learning and development objectives. Managers need to be clear about who owns what and give their teams responsibility for their own development – and the tools they need to advance.
BLACKBERRY MAKES A COMEBACK WITH THE KEYONE
BlackBerry has recently launched its new KeyOne smartphone. It combines a physical keyboard with an Android operating system, BlackBerry secure email and a 4.5inch touchscreen.
Many smartphone users find typing on physical keys more accurate than tapping out emails using a touchscreen and this is the audience that BlackBerry is targeting with the new KeyOne.
The keyboard can be set up to enable shortcuts. For example, set it to press “L” to open LinkedIn, or “P” for your photos. Keys can also be assigned as shortcuts for specific contacts, to switch Bluetooth on and off and so on. Each of the 26 keys can be used for two different shortcuts – a long and a short press. You can also swipe vertically or horizontally on the keyboard as you would on a touchscreen, letting you flick through menus or scroll down pages, while the phone’s fingerprint scanner is built into the space bar.
The design of the KeyOne is smart and professional. It looks high end and the touchscreen is bright and clear with a resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels. The KeyOne uses the latest version of Android (Android 7.1.1 Nougat) and is geared towards business users who value productivity above all else. Users have access to all of the apps on the Google Play Store as well as a number of enterprise-focused BlackBerry programmes.
Aside from the keyboard, the BlackBerry Hub software is the highlight of the KeyOne. It combines notifications, messages, calls, LinkedIn, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and calendar notifications into one streamlined location.
The BlackBerry KeyOne is available on contract from various providers or SIM free from £499. It includes 32GB of storage, expandable with optional microSD cards if you need more storage space.
NETWORKING TIPS FOR INTROVERTS
Business networking seems easy and tends to come naturally to extroverts. But what if you are an introvert? What do you do if attending a networking event is your worst nightmare? The good news is you can still master the art of networking.
Arrive early when there are fewer people and it is often easier to engage in meaningful conversation without being interrupted. Making one good connection can be the springboard to building your confidence.
Bring your wingman/woman
Having a colleague or friend with you can make it easier to strike up a conversation with others and perhaps they would be happy to introduce you to other people at the networking event.
Take a break
Networking events can sometimes be overwhelming for anyone. Make sure you take regular breaks. Perhaps you can step outside to check your email or take a call. You could even check the sports scores on your smartphone and use the latest football results as an ice breaker during your next networking chat.
Have a plan
It may help to write out a few ice breakers before attending your next networking event. A quick read of the business section of the newspaper or taking note of a few topical news stories could help you to strike up a conversation with someone new.
Networking is really about relationship building. Consider the people you meet as potential new friends and just explore getting to know them. Set yourself a target of making at least 1 or 2 new contacts at each networking event you attend and don’t feel the need to work your way around the entire room.
Prepare a few questions
It can be useful to prepare a few open questions which can help you get to know new people. General questions such as “Tell me about your business”, or “What trends are you seeing in the market?” can help you to get the other person talking. Remember – business people tend to enjoy talking about their own firms.
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