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Let’s be clear: Leaders are not born. They’re made, and made through hard work, dedication and determination. Individuals need training and experience to become a leader; it is not something that is inherently known.
In my experience, through hard work, an individual will make their own way into a position where they are able to test the waters and start working with teams. This is the catalyst where prospective leaders are either able to develop their skills, learn what it takes to be successful in a leadership role and work their way up to larger roles.
Or, prospective leaders realize that this may not be the best path for them. Many people set out with the idea that being a leader is easy only to fail because they don’t understand that it takes more than a certain mentality to lead others.
Age is just a number
While age is often viewed as a major factor of whether someone will be a good leader or not, it does not always translate into an optimum level of experience.
As someone, who at a young age managed employees that were older than me, you can be young and a good leader it really depends on how you handle things. It is important as a leader at any age to set clear goals and establish expectations when figuring out how to meet those goals.
You can be a manager with decades of experience and be a terrible leader because you don’t properly communicate with your team or have a set plan in place.
The power of attraction
Attracting leaders and great talent in general to an organization is all about creating a dynamic workplace that fosters self-empowerment at every level. No one wants to work for a company where they will be micromanaged.
You want to give employees who are taking on a leadership role the ability to set goals for their area of responsibility and figure out how to achieve those goals with their team.
When you dictate how someone is going to handle their team you eliminate much of their ability to display the traits that make them a successful leader.
Leaders want to be part of an organization where they can apply their experience and pass that knowledge on to others.
First and foremost, a good leader must have the ability to listen not just dictate. A good leader values feedback from employees because he/she knows that they may not have all of the answers.
It is also important that a good leader has vision and plans for the future. There is a major difference between someone that is able to react to a situation versus someone that already has a plan in place should that situation occur. Once that plan is in place, a good leader can set goals and will review with their team on a consistent basis to see how those goals are being met and what they mean in the grand scheme of things.
Finally, don’t be mean. In all seriousness, a good leader knows that although they are in a position of power, it does not give him/her the right to treat employees like dirt.
People are much more receptive to a leader that treats them with respect and values their opinion.
Hold the ones you love
It is important that once you find a great leader and have them within your organization, that you keep challenging them to take their area of responsibility to the next level.
Once there is any sort of complacency, thinking that their department can’t get any better, a good leader typically starts to feel like they don’t have to strive to achieve new accomplishments.
Good leaders like to be challenged because it allows them to grow and develop their skills. If a leader hits a plateau at a company, it typically leads them to look elsewhere.
Fish where there is fish
At my company, we always try to promote from within when we can. Oftentimes, it is better to invest in employees that exhibit great potential because they can develop the skills to become leaders versus trying to pick a leader out of a crowd.
Many of the respected managers and leaders at my firm started as lower level associates. It is my belief that leaders will always present themselves through their hard work and their drive to make a difference in an organization without being asked.
Internal promotion is highly effective because these individuals become invested in the company and as they progress through the ranks, they are groomed for a future leadership role.
In essence, leadership is a skill that can be learned. It comes naturally to those who work hard and persevere, but it can also be taught to individuals who are dedicated and determined to get the job done. I believe in grooming our future leaders from within and setting them on a path for future success.
Jeffrey Tesch is managing director of RCN Capital LLC, a national, direct private lender. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of RCN, including sales growth initiatives, underwriting review with compliance oversight and leadership of senior level strategic planning. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.