By Jeffrey Fermin

If your company can create and mold future leaders, it will have long lasting effects for your company. This is not only true for managers, but every employee should have a leader type of attitude.

Being autonomous in your work is one of the greatest feelings, and one of the smartest ways to improve employee engagement. It’s important to remember that this is a really long-term process, so while I encourage you to measure your success, be careful about measuring too early. Plus it’s hard to define what “success” will look like for your company.

Leadership Starts with Personal Development

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

This is something I’m really passionate about. I encourage everyone reading this to pick something new you want to learn, and make some time for it. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, it can be something that you dedicate 1-2 hours a week on, but you should always be learning. Personally, I want to learn web development, and I’m challenging myself this year to make it happen. I study for 1 hour each week night, and so far it’s very manageable.

I would also recommend and encourage companies to promote learning activities to their employees. Not only is this a great way to increase employee engagement, but your employees will be smarter, and better on the job.

Don’t forget that before you can truly be ready to lead others (or manage others), you have to be great at leading yourself. Do you eat properly? Do you workout? Are you as productive as you can be? Before telling others what to do, improve yourself.

Great Leaders Empower Their Employees

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” —Sam Walton

In my opinion, the best leaders are the ones that are inclusive, collaborate, and really listen to their employees. The best leaders are the ones who instead of micromanaging, encourage employees to work on side projects or to explore new ideas.

As a leader, it’s important to be patient, calm, and respectful. Employees will sometimes ask questions that they should know the answer to, or they might disturb you when you’re incredibly stressed out, but a good leader knows to ignore all of that, and go out of their way to develop their employees.

Give your employees the tools that they need, make sure they are as knowledgeable as they possibly can be about your company, and keep communicating with them. There is no such thing as too much communication, but there are lots of examples where lack of communication causes a problem.

Get to know your employees on a personal level as well. I don’t necessarily mean go out with them on weekends, it’s important to keep that professional relationship, but showing your employees that you care about their personal life will go a long way. Ask them how their kids are doing, how their wife is doing, what they did this weekend, etc…

“As a leader, you have to be authentic and constantly connecting with employees” – Jeff Immelt

Here are 3 tips that you can use to grow leaders within your company.

1. Give frequent, constant feedback

Employees (especially millennials) want constant feedback. They are very agile in the way they work, and are constantly re-evaluating and optimizing what they’re doing.

Make sure you give them feedback as much as you possibly can. If your team is a bit shy to communicate try different team building activities that will allow more collaboration.

2. Mentor employees

My favorite example of a case study for this is what happens in Germany. Germany is one of the most productive countries in the world, and the quality of their work is incredible.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “German Engineering” a few times in your life. Germany is famous for its apprenticeship system in schools, and they take mentoring very seriously there. We can learn a thing or two from them.

3. Look to the future

If you want to shape a great leader, they need to be ready for the future. It’s all about pushing their limits to make them the best at what they do, or will be doing.

If they train for a position one or two levels up, they will learn so much more for their current role, and they’ll be ready for future challenges.

Your turn. What do you think it takes to be a great leader? Let me know in the comments!