Today’s remote work environment has presented some challenges in training the next generation of leaders. That said, the isolation caused by COVID-19 may turn out to be an excellent training ground for leaders across many advisory firms.
After all, training someone to manage a business during a crisis and amidst down markets requires a different skill set.
Traditional leadership training courses usually focus on what the founders of firm think of as important — business development and business planning — vision, mission, values, and growth goals.
These are good skills to learn. But during a crisis, firms most often battle with providing a consistently high-quality client experience and motivating team members to keep working hard.
Future leaders can learn a great deal by helping others in hard times, like those we’re facing right now. To do so, they need work on their communication skills and figure out how to balance them with a patient approach in guiding their teams.
In this crisis, we’ve observed some next-generation leaders focusing more on “what” they should be doing rather than on “who” they need to be helping. When leading in difficult circumstances, it takes a village to resolve issues; in other words, the best ideas in how to solve problems — the “what” — often come from everyone working together.
Learning to lead teams in hard times exponentially increases the effectiveness of next-gen leaders in easier days.
Here are a few methods to enhance training of these up-and-coming leaders in your firm during the COVID-19 crisis:
1. Start with communication skills.
Teaching communication skills requires current leaders to be open to listening, sharing their experiences, being patient — most of all — spending extra time with young leaders.
When you’re not in the office together, these young people won’t be able to observe how you listen to others and how you ease the fears of team members.
Thus, the best way to teach a next-generation leader to effectively communicate is to loop them into the calls you’re having with others on the team. Let them “watch” your communication and listening skills in action.
This will teach them how to listen more deeply to members of teams they’re leading.
2. Be a wise mentor.
You need to transition from being the final decision maker and to serving as the teacher. This means, you shouldn’t protect your students from failure; let them learn from it.
Your role is to show young leaders how to trust themselves in the hard times and be able to make tough decisions and overcome those failures.
By taking a step back to listen to their solutions before you present yours, you let them understand the process involved in your decision-making.
3. Support them.
Real leadership is about supporting and encouraging others to be their best.
By giving next-generation leaders the support they need, you help them become much more confident in their ability to lead your firm on their own.
This means that instead of telling them an answer, you inspire them to explore answers on their own. Also, encourage them to experiment and to not be afraid of different ideas.
By supporting and motivating others, you help your future leaders understand that there is no right or wrong answers; there are hundreds of ways to build a business and move through a crisis.
Plus, you teach them it’s OK not to know all the answers. That’s why they have a village to lean on when times get rough.
No successful business leader overcame a crisis and a volatile market alone. No leader can lead alone.
The next generation of talent will best serve you and your business if you demonstrate that is takes the effort of many to overcome hard times. The best education you can give these young leaders is to show them that you need them, too.