Are You Growing Leadership From Within Your Company?

Joe Weinlick
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Dozens of the world's most successful companies find dedicated and loyal CEOs by growing leadership from the inside. Your company could be next to follow the examples of GE, McDonald's, Xerox and Best Buy as international juggernauts that found strength from within. You might even be the next successful CEO if you follow a few steps and work hard.

Growing leadership from within your company isn't an accident. It needs to be purposeful, talent-driven and supported by current leadership. One overall theme is that this process takes hard work. Companies don't grow meteorically overnight, and so grooming the next CEO or upper-level manager may take years. In the case of GE, Jack Welch started with the company in 1960 as a junior chemical engineer. In the span of 20 years, he was GE's CEO.

1. Patience Is Key

Employees can become leaders within your company, but growing leadership takes time. Although current CEOs want fast growth, billions of dollars in investments and a thorough five-year plan, business leadership must set its sights on what happens 20 and 30 years from now. A driven, entry-level employee starting out at a Fortune 500 company in 2016 may rise to the role of CEO by 2036 after learning every aspect of the company's inner workings, the industry in which it exists, the market forces at play and the trends that move the business forward.

2. Mentorship Empowers Employees

While CEOs recognize grooming a dynamic business leader takes time, it also requires effort to personally determine who has the spark to handle more responsibilities. Mentoring the right people gives lower-level employees a chance to observe and learn from C-suite personnel already in place. Consider growing leadership by delegating projects to employees you think can take the reins. Sometimes, reluctant leaders who have what it takes just need a little poking and prodding to turn into inspirational people who can get things done as a department manager or higher up.

Seek out someone who inspires other people in the company. Find someone who takes the initiative, persuades others to follow along with a plan and maintains the company culture. When this person steps up, the entire company wins.

3. Watch Out for False Promises

When you pick out a strategy for growing leadership from within your ranks, stick with it until the end. Switching tactics by bringing in an outsider or suddenly changing your plan in the middle erodes trust with your loyal employees. When employees no longer trust you, they might start evacuating and seeking other opportunities for employment. Finding an outsider may not be worth it if your core staffers leave.

Growing leadership is not an easy proposition, but the long-term growth of your company is worth it. Remember, you need to find a balance between running sprints and a marathon. Your short-term projects are the sprints, while your long-term strategy is the marathon. Finding great leaders takes both short- and long-term success.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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