As this year's leaders, we have a responsibility to train next year's leaders. Johanna Rothman's article, Management Myth #4: Managers Don't Need Training, reminds me how important this a job this is. In the article and her upcoming book, Johanna focuses on training new managers for dealing with the common situations they encounter such as the one-on-one meetings. I'm looking forward to this resource.
I want to highlight the importance of teaching new leaders and managers before they face the job on their own. You shouldn't just pluck the most promising individuals out of your teams and throw them into a leadership role. This won't be effective even if you spend time training them in their new role. We need to start training new leaders and managers even before they realize we are training them.
Who are the potential leaders in your teams, and what are you doing to make them ready to take your place? Train a replacement not only prepares our future leaders, it builds capacity in your team. Here are some ideas:
- Have them tag along with you to a variety of meetings.
- Have them give your presentation to a customer with you there for backup.
- Have them review memos and contracts before you send them out.
- Give them increasing levels of problem solving responsibilities, with real opportunities to fail.
- Ask their opinion about difficult problems, and share with them what you decide to do.
After all these situations, I find it valuable to debrief. This helps the leader-in-training to see things that they otherwise might miss, "Did you notice how I asked everyone in the meeting to share their ideas about the proposal? Some people will never raise an issue unless you ask them directly." This debriefing time also helps me think through why I do things, thereby honing my own skills.
This process can take time. It's not something you can rush through with only one month of notice when you realize the need is imminent. Be thankful if you have eighteen months to two years lead time. And, you should work to fill the leadership pipeline with multiple successors if you can. So become a leadership mentor today. Some future new manager will thank you.