Thursday, March 10, 2011

Every Army Needs Officers.

Here's a short guest post from Jennifer Prosek. While I would take issue with her last point about great players making great coaches, she's certainly earned the right through her accomplishments to have a say on Great Leadership. (-:

Every Army Needs Officers. By Jennifer Prosek

In my development of an Army of Entrepreneurs™ strategy, I made sure to include an element of officer training. Great leadership can’t begin and end in my office. It has to be part of the management system throughout the company. That’s critical because it allows the company to grow and yet remain connected to the core values I’ve worked to instill.

So how do you go about training officers for an Army of Entrepreneurs?

Look within. Often your best managers are growing up organically within your company. The trick is spotting them. Don’t assume great leadership skill will “just happen” over time. Target your officer prospects and put them on personal training programs to develop the skills the company will need. We had an experience in our company in which we could see great potential in one of our staffers – but he wasn’t so sure he wanted to change his ways and move up into management. We developed a training program that targeted the specific skills he needed to build. That way he could feel more confident and we could take advantage of his natural talent.

Recruit from outside. This is harder than training an inside candidate. Sometimes, we fall for the great resume and think we can make the perfect hire who will waltz into the company and be a savior from Day One. But that’s usually not the case. When recruiting from outside the company, look for potential managers who buy into the entrepreneurial culture, demonstrate entrepreneurial skills and voice a willingness to learn the unique Army of Entrepreneurs style.

Always reach for the best. Whether you recruit from outside or train from within, always look for a track record of excellence. A study produced by Cornell University’s ILR School found a direct link between individual technical success and later leadership potential. Great players make great coaches. It’s true in business, too.

Recruiting and training managers is probably one of the most important activities I pursue as my company grows. One of the things that worries me most as we expand is keeping the important elements of our entrepreneurial culture alive for all the staff. If I can’t talk to everyone every day, if I can’t stop by their desks and chat or join them in a meeting or speak to them in the hall, how can I make sure that spark remains?

The answer is officer training. Choose, train and trust other leaders to join you in your march forward.

Jennifer Prosek is the CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.
You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


Tim Griffith said...

I agree that we need to be careful with a statement like "great players make great coaches," assuming that technical expertise will translate into leadership success. We've all probably seen our share of horror stories when this goes wrong.

I'm guessing that the point Jennifer is driving at is that some of the core skills that drive success at a technical level (e.g. competence, learning, discipline, etc.) can be the same ones that lead to success in leadership, when coupled with the effective development of specific leadership capabilities.


Dan McCarthy said...

Tim -
Well said!

Christian Fey said...

I am constantly flabbergasted by how often management looks outside, rather than inside their organization. Who knows an organization better than those working in the organization? Not too many. And unless the organization is in a period of restructuring, where the culture is likely to change significantly, there's really no reason to hire from outside unless all options have been exhausted.

Thanks Jennifer!

Keith Johnston said...

I agree that companies should look for leadership within their ranks, but there are situations where companies are looking to make major changes or drive significant growth. In the latter situations, someone from outside who has already experienced the kind of change a company is looking for will be much more credible and be able to paint a much clearer vision of what the future will look like. Companies will reach their goals more quickly.

Thanks for the post Jennifer!