How to build next-level leadership?

Leadership cannot be taught in schools, but leaders can be nurtured in the right organization with the right skills and experience.

While the founder(s) are at the front line and leading the team to the desired goal, it is crucial for any startup to ensure there is a next line of people ready to take over when needed.

Actually approx 83 percent of the companies believe it is critical to develop leaders and create successors, but 69 percent of Millennials believe their workplace is not conducive to developing the skills needed to build leaders.

In most organizations, this critical role in leadership development is often overlooked. As a result, many companies and startups have met their demise when a key executive left the team. On the other hand, endowing middle-level managers with leadership skills gives them confidence and the belief that the company will entrust them with more responsibility.

Filling in the gaps in the leadership pipeline ensures there are definitely people who will lead the company going forward. So, next-level leadership means enabling middle-level employees to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Swati Bhargavaco-founder of CashKaro and Earn diamondsexplains, “My vision of next-level leadership includes the ability to embrace change, navigate ambiguity with confidence, visualize the future, and practice gratitude on a daily basis.”

However, according to Apollo Technical Leadership Statistics, 55 percent of CEOs say developing the next generation of leaders remains their biggest challenge.

Entrepreneurship 101 seeks to decipher and share suggestions on how entrepreneurs can build the next line of leaders in their organization.

Identify a next level leader

“Creating the next level of leadership is about taking a chance and embracing new ideas, going beyond functional ability and creating leaders beneath you,” he says Chinu KalaFounder of Rubans Accessories.

Before a startup settles in and selects the next level of leadership, it is imperative for the founders and leadership team to identify the employees who best fit the role.

Your story surveyed entrepreneurs for their opinion on the qualities their next line of leadership should possess. Here’s what they said.

person of the people

A good future leader is one that the team would be happy to work with and communicate with without hesitation. Team members should be open to them and trust them. However, they should also have the drive to have difficult conversations whenever the need arises.

A next-level leader is not someone who has the potential to boss their juniors around and micromanage. A next-line leader should be able to convey positivity, motivate those around them, and fill the room with zeal.

“Ultimately it’s about how good they are with people and how much their team appreciates them, looks up to them and is willing to put in that extra mile for them,” she says Anshul AgarwalFounder of Metaqube and XR Central.

Adaptable and dynamic

Startups are characterized by a constantly changing business environment. Therefore, it is crucial for a next-line leader to be able to change their ways and implement new strategies quickly to cope with the changes.

Manu Jain, co-founder of VAMA, agrees that next-line leaders should be adaptable to changing circumstances. “They should learn quickly from their mistakes and be able to lead their organizations to success and maintain a competitive advantage,” he adds.

In addition, they should be self-motivated and responsible and have a higher motive for the job.

Strong decision-making skills

“Leaders don’t need to be experts in everything, but they need to be good at prioritizing what problems really need to be solved and who they’re working with to get them done,” Swati emphasizes.

An important decision can make or break a startup. A good leader is someone who can remain calm in the face of obstacles and make important decisions. They should be able to foresee the future, make statistics and evidence-based decisions, and challenge the status quo when necessary.

By including potential next-line leaders in the company’s larger decision-making process, you can better evaluate them.

How to introduce Next Level Leadership?

Once identified, entrepreneurs and leaders can use the following suggestions to instill leadership skills:

Offer takeover opportunities

Swati says that CashKaro follows a flat structure and has no set hierarchy. This encourages people at all levels to take responsibility for the work assigned to them.

For example, during the pandemic-induced year of working from home, Swati initiated a daily morning show at CashKaro called #TheCKMorningShow. The agenda for the morning meeting was to engage and keep in touch with the team, welcome new members and celebrate special occasions.

Two years later, the show is still live and instead of Swati, a new member takes over the leadership of the meeting every day. Interestingly, CashKaro even allows its interns to take initiative, lead projects and eventually climb the ladder to become managers.

Manu believes it is just as important to trust his employees while teaching them to take responsibility for their work. Anshul agrees. At his startup, he gives employees full responsibility for the work they are invested in.

further education

Manu says: “Promoting your employees to the next level of management is an organic process that takes time and patience. Leaders should carefully train and guide them to become the best versions of themselves by providing them with the appropriate tools, experience and opportunities.”

CashKaro also offers its employees further training opportunities through its LearnKaro initiative. LearnKaro is the startup’s internal program designed to equip employees with technical skills such as Excel, SQL, and Power Query, among other things. In addition, Swati attends sessions with the influencer marketing, brand, and social media teams to provide guidance.

Share the vision

Typically, managers are placed into roles to lead specific projects or business segments that are aligned with their skills and experience with tools. For leadership at the next level, however, Anshul says, “It is extremely important to think like a visionary and have a mission and a plan to fulfill the vision that is aligned with the board and the founders.”

Startups that don’t grow typically have exclusionists as next-level leaders, rather than visionaries. Anshul agrees, saying, “My company and I are as good as my team. The vision needs to be inculcated from the founders to the youngest employee who will play an important role in taking us to the next stage of growth.”

In summary, Anshul says that above all else, entrepreneurs “must think about hiring smarter, faster people… The simple reason for this is that as entrepreneurs we can’t specialize in everything, we do good things when we’re generalists.”

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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