Why Leaders Should Be Tested Just as Much as Employees


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You might be surprised to hear this, but 82% of bosses tend to come into leadership positions without any management training or qualifications.

This has resulted in a major decline in high-quality leaders in various industries across the world. An outcome of this is that we face a decline in levels of trust towards managers among regular workers and a high level of employee turnover.

So, to avoid this, shouldn’t company founders and top management also undergo growth and improve their skills, especially in the current market conditions when everything is changing every day? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? Here’s my take on how leaders can undergo self-development and why it’s important.

Related: How Leaders Can Cultivate Happiness in the Workplace

Adopt the mindset of change

As a business leader, I have long learned that the finance industry is constantly shifting and evolving. This means that my fellow founders and I must constantly monitor these changes if our business is to stay relevant.

Lewis Carroll once said, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that.” These words perfectly describe how founders should feel when gathering and analyzing new information.

And it’s not just about the right knowledge. The roles you have to fulfill in the company also change depending on what stage of development you’re at. When you first launch a startup, the focus is primarily on building your team and researching the market for possible product niches that you can fill. But as your company grows, the situation changes. And so do the tasks that you, as a founder, have to tackle.

For example, all our teams have been formed these days, so I find myself dealing with such matters less. Instead, most of my attention goes to more strategic matters, such as planning the company’s course and prospects for the next two to three years.

And that’s how I think it should be. Founders must be able to switch gears, gradually moving away from dealing with operational matters and towards strategic ones. To this end, adopting a particular mindset and preparing a management team that will allow your business to function without your direct intervention in day-to-day matters is important.

Related: 5 Traits You Must Have to Create More Leaders

Learn how to take a back seat

In my mind, the founder’s task is to build their company up to a certain stage. You will know that you’ve arrived at that stage when you start feeling that your competencies are no longer enough to continue fulfilling your responsibilities efficiently. This means that it’s time to take a step back and hire people better suited to take over some of your tasks.

Being able to do so requires a certain measure of character that allows you to look at things objectively and acknowledge that others would be better suited than you for some of the company’s positions. In fact, the larger your business gets, the less suited you are likely to be for many roles that need to be filled. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I would say that it’s a perfectly healthy situation for a company to be in. A time may come when things will be handled by other people who are better at direct management than you. Meanwhile, you and your fellow founders can form the board of directors without a need to get deeply involved in regular processes.

It’s up to you to decide when the moment is right for this transition to take place.

Related: 4 Ways Exceptional Leaders Can Provide Stability Today

What tactics can you use?

It is natural for both founders and employees to grow with the company and its needs. Set specific goals that you wish to achieve and select the kinds of training that would better help you achieve them. Here are some options that I believe would be of great use in boosting the skills you need to better command a business.

Leadership coaching: Coaching sessions create a space for reflection, where you can improve self-awareness and explore your aspirations. Get a clearer idea of where you are and where you want to be to achieve sustainable growth for the company. Evidence shows that 70% of leaders who receive coaching benefit from improved workplace performance. Personally, I can say that coaching often allows me to reflect on existing business issues while also learning how to do better based on real cases that we’ve handled in the past. This has proven very helpful over the years.

Industry analysis: I mentioned before that working in finance means operating under constantly changing conditions. That’s why constant market assessment is paramount here. It helps us understand the state of things and the needs that market participants face. This, in turn, enables us to make projections about the demand and supply for our products and possible financial returns. If you want your business to be successful, you can never stop deepening your awareness of the market in which you operate.

Collecting feedback: in my company, we don’t really have a unified benchmark against which we measure all our people and try to make them fit. There wouldn’t be much point to that. Fintech is a very innovative field, so the most desired traits here are the ability and the courage to think creatively, not ‘adhere to standards’, as it were. As such, we prefer to measure the success of our training initiatives through the feedback given by our management and employees according to the Kirkpatrick model. Whether they are managing to apply new skills and knowledge in their work and whether the training has benefited their levels of self-confidence and motivation. That’s how we assess our progress.

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