At GreenSky, we talk a lot about growth. That’s because our consumer financing solutions are designed to help companies increase sales by making their services more affordable. Like so many things in business, however, growth can be a two-edged sword. Additional sales almost always result in greater demands on other areas of the company, from technicians to customer service to accounting.
Companies can face serious growing pains if they fail to successfully develop or hire the leaders they need to manage increased operational demands. So, if your company is growing – or you are planning for growth - enhancing your own leadership skills, and putting them to work creating new leaders, are vital to your success.
Learning to lead
While industry-specific skills, like estimating or inventory control, are important, leaders must also develop critical management skills, such as organizing a department, communicating effectively, or strategic thinking. You can find courses on these subjects at local universities and community colleges. These days, many leading educational institutions (including such stalwarts as Harvard) offer both credit and non-credit versions of their business management courses online. We’ve included links to some of these online learning resources below.
Because your new leaders must be in place before they are needed, a successful leadership development program must be ongoing and consistent. It also must be closely aligned with your business goals. One mistake organizations make, when it comes to leadership development, is limiting their efforts to specific opportunities, like the availability of training courses.
To help give you a start, we reviewed a variety of leadership development publications, websites, and other resources and discovered some guiding principles to work from. We also identified several online sources of information, training, and education.
Make learning a core company value.
The desire to continually learn and grow must be apparent from the top down within your organization. The overriding concept is to develop new leaders, not simply train them.
There are many ways to do this:
- Set an example. Read, attend seminars, and take classes, then encourage employees to do the same.
- Encourage employees to take advantage of online resources like blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, etc.
- Subscribe to trade magazines and business publications make them available to employees.
- Create a reference library and keep it up to date.
- Be a mentor. Talk about goals and new skills they wish to learn. Involve them in decision making.
- Encourage employees to ask questions. Lots of them. And not just to you. Create a work environment in which employees know who to ask about specific subjects and are not afraid to do so.
- When you feel it is appropriate, place employees into situations that require them to learn and grow. Don’t be too quick to solve problems for them.
- As they learn the ropes, assign responsibilities, not tasks—focus on what needs to be done, not HOW they need to do it.
- Consider using growth-related activities like job rotation and shadowing.
- Identify leadership development training that meets your business needs and make it available to employees.
- Encourage employees to seek out training, seminars, and other learning events, attend them, and present what they learned to their colleagues.
As mentioned previously, new leaders must be in place and ready to hit the ground running before your company can grow. That means you should have a program to create the next generation of leaders in place long before you begin to feel growing pains. If you want more information about scaling your team and business, please check out our white paper on the topic.
A few selected online learning resources*:
Class Central is a resource for online courses from leading universities.
Leadership Training and Tutorials from Lynda.com. You can get a free trial to check out their online courses. They cover a lot of subjects, so you might find useful courses in addition to leadership.
Udemy is an online learning marketplace with thousands of courses taught by industry and subject matter experts.
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. These are free online courses from universities around the world (including Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others). The MOOC List site can help you find courses on specific topics.
*Note: Links to these resources are provided for information only. They are not connected to, or endorsed by, GreenSky, LLC. Opinions and views expressed on these sites are those of the site management and not necessarily those of GreenSky.