By Micheal Holland

Young leaders want to grow quickly to become effective managers and business leaders and while companies like to leverage these resources as soon as possible, a concerted effort to invest in building these leaders would be more appropriate.  Young leaders desperately need to learn the craft of management and the art of leadership which takes time, living through experiences, making mistakes and practicing good leadership behaviors.  Ideally companies would create an apprenticeship approach which would provide a coordinated approach to driving young leaders through a series of assignments and interactions to strengthen their people acumen, build wisdom, create business perspective and develop broad communication skills.

Here are 5 ways to apprentice a young leader.

  1. Move the supervisor to manage a similarly sized team in a different business function for one year.
  2. Send the administrative manager out in the field with a successful sales rep for 8 weeks on the road with customers.
  3. Allow one or two young leaders to sit in on senior leadership meetings to observe how senior leaders interact, debate, and resolve conflict while traversing significant and diverse business issues.
  4. Setup an apprentice circle with several young leaders with whom you will meet every other month for a year.  Everyone reads a book for each meeting and prepares a one page summary of the book assigned bringing copies of the summary for others in the group.  Invest 90 minutes to 2 hours discussing the book, its application to life at work and in general, and real life stories of leading in the trenches.  Here’s a list of books to consider.
  5. Build trusted relationships.  Talk to them.  Take them out to lunch or breakfast and really talk with them about their life, their experiences at work, the wisdom they are gaining, and their struggles. Build a trusted relationship that will open the door to allow you to provide deep, constructive insight.

All companies desire a bench of strong leaders from whom they can choose successors for key roles.  Successful companies build their bench.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What will you do this year to begin building your bench?
  • Are you a young leader seeking apprenticeship? Or do you know any? What experiences do you think would help to build your/their leadership capacity?