By Rick Braa, CHAE


Q: As our business continues to expand, it’s clear that developing leadership within our organization is the most efficient and beneficial activity to nurture and drive our culture and company. How can we move this strategic initiative forward?

A:As companies expand, it becomes clear that it’s more beneficial to develop from within rather than hire from outside the company. There are several reasons such as understanding the culture, workflow, vision, pace of work and reducing turnover and lowering labor expenses proportionally. To become a talent machine within a company, leadership must take an active role. Raising leaders inside a company is one of the most critical and fulfilling leadership activities of all. To further individual growth of key personnel, consider the following:

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Start with the leader at the top. The most important leadership development is a continual stream of education and improvement from the top person to the lowest. Leadership is a choice; make the choice to invest in top leadership with education, peer groups, reading programs and continual evaluation. A leader must continue to lead or step aside. Leadership ability is about reproducing leaders rather than acquiring followers.

Identify those with natural leadership and train to management leadership. There are many differences between a natural leader and a management leader. Natural leaders are strong at giving directions versus setting expectations, driving for perfection rather than excellence; they seek approval more than results, control over delegation; they rely on instinct instead of information and are great firefighters as opposed to measuring results. Help the natural leader transition from a personal leadership style, which all leaders possess, to a management leadership style, which successful leaders exude. In the hospitality business, it’s imperative to have both qualities – those of a leader and those of a manager. Hierarchies in restaurant companies tend to be small and tight, yet there is still a great need for performance with a high need for reproducing leaders. A management leader is highly committed and has high personal standards of excellence. They are full of integrity, trustworthiness and hold high levels of respect. They model desired behavior and demand more of themselves than others. Most importantly, management leaders reproduce other leaders.

Select the best. The game of business is fraught with politics and favoritism. Select the right people to develop regardless of what others may think. Leadership development takes time and effort. It’s not a popularity contest, and selecting those with the highest upside with the most talent will result in the best return on time investment. The process is to move a leader from a producer to a reproducer. Those interested in having a following will have a hard time fulfilling the purpose of leadership: being decisive, engaging for impact rather than being liked, adapting strategy and style and producing reliable results.

Identify key areas of focus for development. A manager does things right; a leader does the right things. While developing the next leaders, focus on key areas such as setting goals, time management, people management, action planning, setting priorities and managing up along with an intense focus on improving the guest experience.

Formalize the process. Set a calendar with an agenda with the new leadership candidate(s) to stay on track. Start with a set of goals and timeline and never miss a meeting. High potential leaders insist on great leadership, so high performance from the coach is necessary to keep momentum.

Developing the leaders around you is the most important activity of leadership. By continually reproducing leaders the organization will gain strength and durability and experience explosive growth. n

For a more information on improving profitability and driving performance, contact AMP Services at . Rick Braa is the co-founder of AMP Services, an accounting and consulting firm specializing in helping companies grow profitability.