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How to groom the next generation of leaders

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

A leader's role is to see the big picture and prepare for what is ahead – and that role includes grooming the next generation of leaders.

Preparation for a leadership position can start early in an employee's career. From entry-level to executive, all employees can fine tune their leadership skills through day-to-day experience, professional development sessions, performance evaluations and a professionally rewarding office culture.

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As employees take advantage of learning opportunities to progress in their career, the scope and scale of people and projects they manage will grow as well. To be effective as they take on more leadership responsibilities requires both tangible and intangible skills. A complete plan to groom future leaders should focus on cultivating the right skill set and the right attitude.

The tangibles and intangibles will be developed differently and organizations should approach teaching them differently.

The tangibles

Regardless of industry, there are key areas that employees should develop in order to ensure they have the skills necessary to succeed in a leadership role. For instance:

Collaboration: The ability to connect with and lead a team with an understanding and respect for everyone's responsibilities.

Project and financial management: The ability to steward a project from start to finish through business and financial processes.

Communication: The ability to communicate in any business setting whether in person, by e-mail, over the phone or in presentations, and with anyone, whether it's your team, suppliers or clients.

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The intangibles

Mastering every business skill isn't enough unless a potential leader has the attitude necessary to execute. This attitude – a passion, purpose and perspective in business – is an intangible. It is harder to teach, but once instilled can be a game-changer.

When an employee has the right attitude, they will go outside their comfort zone, strive for continuous development, show up and be present even when they would rather be at home. This behaviour is critical to managing challenges and achieving success, and no one can lead effectively without it.

Engendering the right attitude in employees requires a different approach, one that is more personalized because the actions that will truly inspire someone vary from one person to the next. Discovering an employee's passion, purpose and perspective is so personal that the process should be led by a professional coach. The process requires structure, discipline and the development of a plan that will guide employees toward their personalized career and life goals.

Organizations should make a point of ensuring that employees can clearly see how achieving their personal goals will benefit the organization and how the organization's success will benefit them personally. Creating this connection will foster the strongest commitment. Commitment from employees – especially those in leadership roles – is essential to the success of an organization.

The generation that we are now grooming to lead our organizations in the future, expect and need purpose, passion and perspective to be woven into their work. It is important that we address this need as critically as any other business need.

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As leaders, our role is to guide our organizations, making wise decisions and investing in what will lead to success now and in the future. An important aspect of this is grooming the next generation of leaders. It is a long-term commitment brought to fruition by daily efforts. In addition to creating a culture and systems that prepare employees for leadership, as leaders we must model the right behaviour every day. It's exhausting and ultimately exhilarating – and it is what we have signed-up for as business leaders.

Nicole Gallucci (@BOOMbanter) is the chief executive officer and president of Boom Marketing in Toronto.

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