Hey there, this is Julie Bee, and you’re listening to They Don’t Teach THIS in Business School. Thanks for being here today. Before I forget, make sure you subscribe to this podcast, and if you can, leave a review and/or ratings. Thanks in advance.
Business owners often ask me how they can help their key employees become leaders. It’s one of the most requested speaking topics I am asked to speak on, I consult business owners on this topic frequently, and I even have a key employee coaching program where I coach the key employees to becoming leaders in a small business setting.
In this episode, I will share a few key elements that you can implement fairly quickly to help your key employees become leaders in your business. I want you to remember here that the term “key employee” could also mean a really important contractor or your entire leadership team. As I walk through these steps, I’ll use podcast production as an example.
First and foremost, make your key employee’s level of accountability about the same as their decision-making control. If they have a lot of accountability on their shoulders, they should have an equal amount of control over how they execute their work.
For example, if a key employee is responsible for making sure podcasts are published on time, that employee should have an equal amount of decision-making in terms of how and when the podcasts are recorded, produced, and edited.
Second, tell your key employee where you’d like them to lead. If you don’t explicitly tell them that you’d like them to lead, they may not pick up on it. I firmly believe in over-communicating on expectations. Do not assume that the employee knows they are supposed to lead, even if they have a title that goes along with leadership, like manager, director, vice president, etc.
Third, create guardrails around a project for the key employee, and then give them the space to make decisions within those guardrails. Guardrails can be things like timeline, budget, other resources, and quality expectations. Once the key employee knows and understands the guardrails, let them lead the project.
For example, if the key employee knows the budget to have a podcast edited and the expected quality of that podcast, step back and allow them to execute the plan as they see fit.
Fourth, show your support for their decisions when they are leading. As long as the decision is in line with your mission, vision, and core values, and that it’s made within the guardrails you provided – support it, , even if you don’t 100% agree with their decision.
For example, if you have asked a key employee to lead a project, and they determine that they want to cancel most meetings with the production team, and instead rely on email, phone, and text messages – support that decision. The parameters you’ve set, and the outcomes achieved, will speak for themselves.
There are several other actions you can take to help your key employees lead more effectively. I believe in giving your key employees space to fail. I think talking to your employees about their future as a leader, on a regular basis, is a good practice. Finding ways to give employees opportunities to lead without a promotion, like leading projects, meetings, and strategic planning initiatives, is also something small business owners can be on the lookout for.
Helping key employees develop into leaders is often a challenge for business owners for a variety of reasons. Often letting go of control is at the top of that list. It’s such a challenge that I created a 6-month, key employee coaching program for it – to provide that leadership backup to the business owner.
To grow your business, eventually others will need to help you lead it.
These actions will help you get out of your own way and clear the path for those future leaders.
I’m Julie Bee, and They Don’t Teach THIS in Business School