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Plan to be a great leader

There are approximately 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day. Boomers in skilled positions and business leaders alike will be leaving the workforce. Prepared or not, the next generations will move up to fill the void. But what does it take to prepare their replacements to fill these leadership roles?

There’s a difference in getting a leadership role and becoming a true leader. It is a lot more than a title change, office move and a bump in pay. It requires the development of new skills, time application and values. When you move from being an individual contributor to a leader of others, what you do shifts from what you can achieve to what your team can achieve. You go from being a player to the coach. It’s not always an easy transition.

The new skills you need include interviewing and hiring new talent, providing goals and objectives for others to achieve, coaching direct reports and assessing performance.These skills can be learned through focused development, but who trains you? In many circumstances, you learn on the job and do your best. But these are some of the most important skills of being a leader and shouldn’t be left up to chance.


The values and time applications shift are the toughest changes one has to make during the transition to a leadership role. It is not easily learned on the job. The shift in values involves believing your success as a leader involves getting results through others. You also have to believe that your role as a leader is not to be the best doer, but the best developer of talent. Great coaches develop strong players and extraordinary teams. Coaches never make the basket, score the goal or hit the home run, but get those results through others. The same principle applies to business – sales leaders don’t achieve revenue goals without developing the best sales staff.

As a leader, you must allocate time for performance discussions, coaching and communicating strategy and purpose. Being available for your staff is crucial, especially if you have an inexperienced staff or new employees who need more of your time for guidance until they are proficient. Communication with those in positions above you was important in your “pre-leadership” role, but it takes on greater importance now because you are responsible for a larger piece of the business.

I recently heard a leader at NASA say they follow three simple principles: “Plan. Train. Fly.” As you plan a move up to your next leadership position, consider the commitment you need to make in developing your leadership competencies. Train yourself to be the best
leader you can be before you try to fly.

Post by Scott Kiefer

Originally appeared on page 24 of the BG Report Winter 2014 edition.

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