A lot of organizations I’ve worked with over the years have been concerned with finding and bringing in new leaders to help the company grow and prosper. Unfortunately, some are hesitant to address why the current and previous leaders have failed in the first place. Recruiting great leaders is certainly something that can help a business succeed. But bringing them in and having them leave or flame out only sets things back further. Instead of focusing on finding new leaders to help your business grow, invest in becoming the kind of place that great leaders flock to and want to be part of. Don’t just recruit, attract.
If you want bright, energetic, innovative leaders to come work with your business then your business has to be known for being smart and nimble. Often companies are looking for leaders who can take them in a different direction but new leaders don’t want to work in places that operate on a totally different philosophy from their own. Leaders know that they can have more of an impact and make more of a difference in a company that thinks like they do, rather than a business where even small changes seem impossible because they are rowing in a different direction.
I’ve seen slow, bureaucratic, risk averse cultures spit out entrepreneurial leaders in rapid succession. I’ve also seen freewheeling chaotic cultures frustrate disciplined and process oriented leaders to the point where they ran screaming to the nearest 100 year old company they could find.
Become the company where the leaders you need want to work and they will begin to move in your direction. Once they get there, they will begin to attract other like-minded leaders who will help them continue to change and grow the business. Successful leaders know other successful leaders but when they talk with each other the discussion often goes one of two directions. It’s either “I’m having a blast and you should come work with me” or it’s “how are things where you are I’m looking for a new challenge.” Build the company that causes that conversation to sound like the first of those two.
Until you know why the previous leader failed, it’s hard to make the next leader successful. Its easy, and very tempting, to assume that the previous leader bears complete responsibility for not succeeding in your company. Occasionally that’s the case. But if you’ve had multiple employees, that you thought were great on the day you hired them, end up leaving either on their own or because they were asked to, the reality is that your business wasn’t built for that kind of leader to succeed.
To create great leadership in your business many would say that you have two choices, build it or buy it. If you aren’t able to build it though, the talent you buy likely won’t stay there. The truth is that those two things support each other and you have to do both well to succeed long term. The things you do to develop successful leaders internally, attracts more of them from outside.
Many salespeople understand that you have to become a business that attracts the clients you want. The same is true of talent. Figure out what kind of environment you need to attract the best leaders in your world, and begin to create it in your business. Once you do, you won’t have to search for great leaders, they will search for you.