Building Leaders from Within. The 7 Best Ways to Build Your Next Leaders

Doug Staneart  |  March 6, 2022

Building Leaders from Within-The 7 Best Ways to Build Your Next Leaders Want to build leaders from within?

If you own or run a business you have two choices. You could search for leaders in the marketplace and try to convince them to join your team. Alternatively, you can build leaders from within your organization. When you do the latter, you have the potential to create enthusiasm within your team. You are creating a culture of growth and energy. (It is actually cheaper for your company and more rewarding to you if you do this, by the way.)

In this episode, I’m going to cover the seven best ways to build your next generation of leaders. If you are interested in building leaders from within, these tips can really help. This is the final episode of our six-part series on developing highly effective teams. If you create a formal training program for your high-potential employees using these management skills you will create a leadership pipeline in your company.

How to Influence People in a Positive Way and Help Your Team Grow.

Before I get to the seven best ways to build new leaders within your team, let’s start with why these skills work. Although every human being is different, most of us want specific things from our leaders. For instance…

Many people think that a good leader has to tear people down and build them back up. This is a huge mistake. For some reason, we believe that the way to get people to be productive is to kick them in the pants. Typically, that will get you the opposite effect. Your team may comply out of fear, but they will not grow in confidence. As a result, you will have to order them to do every little thing for it to get done.

Great Leaders Throw Chairs (Not Really).

When I was a teenager, Bobby Knight was the basketball coach at Indiana. He was most known for throwing a chair across the basketball court.

I hadn’t seen that footage in over 30 years. When I went back to look at it, though, I noticed something that I didn’t notice 30 years ago. A few minutes into the scene, you hear the crowd yelling, “Bobby… Bobby.” The students loved Bobby Knight. They respected him.

Bobby Knight didn’t win over 800 games because he threw chairs across basketball courts. He won games because he loved his teams and his teams loved and respected him. Jay Bilas of ESPN wrote an article called “800 Reasons I Love Bobby Knight.” Here is an excerpt that explains why he was a great coach.

“The Monday following its loss to Kansas State, Texas Tech had two short and focused workouts… The players were spirited and alert while working on their shooting and zone offense. Knight was his usual self in practice, barking instructions, encouragement, dry witticisms, and doing it in such a way that the action rarely stopped. If you had not known Texas Tech had lost by 25 its last time out, you never would have guessed it from the manner in which the players and coaches approached their work.

“Following the workout, as he usually does, Knight took his players into the locker room to discuss practice… Knight told his players the things they did well during the morning workout, and what they would work to accomplish in the afternoon workout. He closed by saying something that few would believe, given the widespread perceptions of Knight. He said ‘thank you’ to his players.

Knight thanked them for their concentration, hard work, and attentiveness to the tasks at hand. He also said they gave him as enjoyable a practice as he has had as a coach. He told them he expected the same kind of effort and environment in the afternoon workout. In a way, it was extraordinary. In another way, it was just Knight.”

That was Knight’s way of building leaders from within.

The 7 Best Ways to Build Your Next Leaders

The following leadership principles are time-tested. They work 100% of the time. If you make these things a part of your normal coaching style, you will grow fantastic leaders from within your organization.

Many of these principles will help you gain the trust and respect of the future leaders around you. As the levels of trust and respect increase, your influence over others will grow. The trust and respect will result from the “Win/Win” relationships that you build with others.

1) Establish Solid Trust Before Offering Advice.

To Build Leaders Establish Solid Trust First Anytime we criticize someone, there will be some amount of resentment. Can we point out the mistakes of others without resentment? Yes, but we must have their solid trust, and they must know that our only concern is their welfare.

Picture your relationships with others as a check registry. Anytime you have a positive interaction, you add a deposit to the account. Anytime you say something negative to or do something negative against that person, you register a withdrawal.

So, when we have a series of positive interactions with someone, we build a positive balance in this account. However, if we are negative, our relationships may be way overdrawn. The amount of influence — the amount of trust — that we have with someone often depends on the balance in this account.

When people trust us, they are more likely to want to accept our advice and direction. Without that trust, though, our message, no matter how good it is, will fall on deaf ears.

2) Keep Promises. Even Small Ones.

Build Leaders from Within by Keeping Promises A person who breaks his word on little things is also likely to break his word on bigger things too.

Wes Zimmerman, the author of Perception of a Difference, put it very clearly when he wrote, “It has been my experience that people possessing high integrity are honest in little things and big ones. They are honest with themselves. They tend to think about what they are going to say before they say it. Above all, they do these things consistently. Their consistency earns my trust.”

In contrast, when someone breaks a promise, even a little one, it shows their character. They will tend to shade the truth and quote things out of context. Once this character flaw is noticed, it is very difficult to
gain back that trust that is lost.

When promises, even little ones, are kept consistently over a period of time, the leader develops integrity that the people that work for you and work with you can look up to. Brian Tracy, a famous speaker and trainer, says that “The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”

3) Be Enthusiastic About the Success of Others.

Be Enthusiastic About the Success of the Team that You Lead One common trait of great leaders is that they build other leaders along the way.

One of the reasons Phil Jackson became one of the most successful basketball coaches of all time is that he was increasingly enthusiastic about the success of his players. Michael Jordan believed that this was so important, that he refused to play for any other coach.

Jackson has 8 NBA Championship rings as a coach. And in 1998 after his sixth championship, he told Cigar Aficionado Magazine, “It’s normal for people to want more credit for success than is due them, yet the reality is that our championships were won on the court by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, the other players, and the coaching staff.”

Three years later while coaching a new team, USA Today published the following:

“It’s incredible to be in this position as a coach,” said Jackson. “Everything revolves around the team and the staff that I’ve built around this team. I’ve been in the right spot and fortunate enough to have players who put me in this position.”

Great players are attracted to Jackson because he builds great leaders. Team members will flock to you too if you are enthusiastic about their success.

4) Recognize the Potential in Others and Help Them Achieve It.

Build Leaders from Within by Recognizing the Potential of Others Psychologist William James once said that in a person’s lifetime, he will only tap into 10% of his potential. We call this untapped potential our “blind spots.” Our job as leaders is to help minimize the blind spots in others. When we recognize potential in others, we need to encourage them to tap into that potential. A good way to do this is to create leadership roles for each potential leader.

When I was in college, I had a part-time job facilitating after-school care for kids. I noticed that when I scolded or punished the kids, they tested me even more. This was my first real position of authority, and the kids were showing me that they were really in charge.

I had to think fast, so I pulled one of the boys aside and asked him if he wanted to be my sheriff. I told him that if he wanted to be in authority that he had to help me by setting the example. It worked like a charm. Once he was in a leadership position, the other kids in the group began to work with me rather than against me. As the year went on, these “problem” kids become some of the most responsible in the whole group.

This process works well with adults too. My website is full of testimonials from managers who came into their own shortly after getting that first big promotion. All they needed was someone to believe in them.

Don’t discount people because they have a few rough edges. Instead, look for the strengths that they have and help them grow even more in those areas.

People tend to live up to the expectations that others set for them, so set your standards high and encourage others to reach them.

5) Catch People Doing Things Right.

Good Leaders Catch People Doing Things Right One of the best coaches that I ever had was Coach Gary Gaines. He was the linebacker coach at my college. If you ever saw the movie Friday Night Lights he was the head coach played by Billy Bob Thornton. What makes him so great as a coach is that he was a very mild-mannered person, but when he caught someone doing the right thing, he enthusiastically called attention to it.

I still remember specific plays that I made in college because Coach Gaines would always give an immediate pat on the back. Then, when we reviewed the film, he would show the great plays over and over again so that everyone saw them.

The other strength that Coach Gaines had was the way he made corrections and pointed out mistakes. Rather than saying, “Staneart, you missed two tackles,” he called attention to the mistakes as a team. The TEAM missed six tackles. I knew that I missed two of the six, but he let me save face. It made me want to improve.

In the two years that I played for him, he developed three players who played professional football. One of those players was an all-pro every year he has played. This coaching style really works.

Most managers use what Ken Blanchard calls the “Leave Alone, Zap” method of coaching. They leave their direct reports alone until they make a mistake, and then they come by and “Zap” them in order to make corrective action. This type of management style makes it to where the manager becomes the merchant of death in that the only time the direct reports get coaching is when they get hammered.

A better way of managing and coaching people is to look for the things that they are doing right and reinforce those things. Show encouragement and help them strengthen those things that they are already doing well. If we do this, then the things that they are doing wrong will fade away over time.

When we catch people doing things wrong, their focus is on the mistake. However, when we catch people doing things right, their focus is on their success. We get more of what we focus on most.

6) Praise the Baby Steps.

Build Your Next Generation of Leaders by Praising the Baby Steps Parents know that it takes patience, encouragement, and consistent action to teach a baby to walk. The baby takes one step and the parents cheer. She falls down, the parents say, “That’s OK. You can do it!” The baby walks just a few feet, and she’s a champion.

Why don’t we use the same encouragement for our employees and coworkers?

Most managers call attention to the mistakes of their employees and wonder why they have to constantly look over the shoulders of their people. If we want to build great leaders, we have to help build their confidence as they gain experience. Call attention to their successes no matter how small these successes seem to be. When we do that we are anchoring the positive behavior that they are exhibiting.

Want to change behavior? Try calling attention to someone’s mistake indirectly, and then watch to see how the behavior changes. When you catch that person doing things the right way, praise the improvement. Chances are that you’ll begin to see this behavior more consistently. Praise improvements in the right direction, and you’ll build strong leaders around you.

7) Go Out of Your Way for People.

Go Out of Your Way for Others to Become a Great Leader Joe Girard is the Guinness World Record holder for selling cars because he constantly goes out of his way for his customers. For instance, if his customers ever need service on their car, Girard personally represents them when they come into the service department. Sometimes, he even pays for the work himself.

Every one of his customers (and there are thousands) receives a special card from him every month. It may be a St. Patrick’s Day card in March or a Thanksgiving card in November, but they hear from him every month. He has hundreds of things that he does in which he goes out of his way to make sure his customers are satisfied. Most of these customers are repeat buyers and refer friends to him.

When we go out of our way for someone — when we do something above and beyond the call of duty, we are creating a memorable impression upon that person. Harvey Mackay once had a friend relay a story about a colleague that called him at 2:00 in the morning desperate because he needed $20,000 or he would lose his business. This friend remarked that if his own business had been in trouble, he couldn’t think of more than a couple of people he could call for help. Mackay replied that he could name 50 people that he could call. Mackay has those relationships because he has gone to bat for each of those 50 people.

If you want relationships like that, go out of your way for people.

Bonus: Always Give Something Extra.

Always Give More than Anyone Expects I promised you the seven best ways to build your next generation of leaders. Well, here is an eighth one. Always give something extra.

There is a donut store in my neighborhood owned by a little oriental lady who is an expert at maximizing word-of-mouth advertising. The first time I walked through her doors, she greeted me with a warm smile, thanked me over and over for coming in, and gave me a fresh, hot donut hole to eat while I waited.

She had a whole store full of people but treated each one as if he or she were the only person in the world. As I
left the store with my order, I peeked into the box and found two extra donuts. I assumed that she had made a mistake, but when I went back a couple of months later, she greeted me saying that I was her good customer and again I got more than I ordered.

When it happened the first time, I didn’t tell a lot of people, but when I realized that that was her way of
doing business, I told many people.

You can do the same in your business. Under promise and over deliver and the customer will always be happy. When I conduct sales training, I promise a 10% increase in sales. When my clients receive a 40%, 50%, or even 60% increase, they are delighted and they tell more people.

If you want to increase word-of-mouth advertising, always give a little extra.

Building Leaders from Within Doesn’t Just Happen. Great Leaders Make It Happen.

Building a team of quality leaders isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen overnight, either. Leadership development programs take time and consistent effort. However, if you continually practice these time-tested skills, you will create a culture of teamwork within your organization. You will attract high-quality team members as well. The reward far outweighs the work!

Wants Some Help Building Successful Leaders at All Levels of Your Organization?

Our experts can help your team develop important leadership skills and people skills, create development plans for your key players, and improve your bottom line. Developing business leaders from within is a balance of putting the right people into critical roles so they learn new skills along the way. So by the time they are proposed to an executive position, they make better decisions and create a company culture of teamwork!

There are no natural leaders. Effective leadership development is a process. To start that process with your team, call us at (800) 872-7830.

author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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