Build your bench with future leaders
BUILD YOUR BENCH WITH FUTURE LEADERS
With her employer’s help, Patricia Ward is becoming a leader.
After 14 years as a lab tech at Baptist Health Paducah, she was promoted a year ago to supervise 13 lab employees on the afternoon-midnight shift. “It was hard to go from being a peer to being a supervisor,” she said.
In addition to her knowledge and experience as a lab tech, she needed a whole new set of skills – communications, conflict resolution, finance, human resources – to manage people who had been her co-workers.
“I had never really thought about being a supervisor,” she said, “but I am getting more comfortable with it. You have to think about the future.”
Ward participates in Baptist Health Paducah’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program – special courses followed by help from a mentor in topics all executives need to know.
Ward said the LEAD program has helped her on the job and in her everyday life. “This position has opened up new aspirations for me,” she said, “and this program has given me the tools I need to be a good leader.”
Fill the ‘leadership vacuum’
Baptist Health Paducah started the LEAD program to develop new leaders because 60 percent of current managers are over 50 and “within retirement range,” said Pat Reiter, Baptist Health Paducah’s director of education.
Mid-level managers, like Ward, who aspire to higher positions can apply for the program with an essay and a recommendation from their supervisor. Acceptance does not promise a promotion but certainly positions well-trained employees and proven leaders to seek better positions when they are available.
Dr. Tim Todd, dean of Murray State’s College of Business, said such programs are necessary as businesses of all sizes face potential management and financial challenges when aging boomers retire. “The need for businesses to develop new leaders is paramount in the next five to 10 years,” he said.
He cites Executive Succession Planning’s William Byham, who predicts a 33 percent turnover among executives in the next five years.
“It is imperative that the region’s companies not only recognize the coming turnover in the executive ranks, but also proactively address it,” he said. “The future is bright, but we must prepare for the leadership vacuum. Succession planning is fundamental for our sustainability and growth.”
Put me in, coach
Reiter said an important part of LEAD is working with a mentor. “Coaching is a crucial component to developing these leaders,” Reiter said.
Pairing less-experienced employees with proven leaders is a sure-fire way to prepare your company or department to pass the management torch.
Pam Bilbrey president of the Baptist Health Care Leadership Institute of Pensacola, said developing future leaders is the mark of a high-performing organization. She said coaches or mentors should:
- Create “teachable moments,” passing your organization’s knowledge on in formal and informal ways. Transfer the knowledge by becoming the teacher.
- Help those you lead develop a keen sense about what behaviors are appropriate in different circumstances.
- Offer candid, not sugar-coated, feedback at every opportunity, not just at performance review time.
- Model the behaviors – trust, accountability, teamwork, commitment – you consider critical for success.
Colleges, chambers can help
Local help is available to help your company plan for the time when your “first string” retires and you need to go to the bench:
- Todd said Murray State’s business department answers business and industry inquiries and offers Small Business Development Centers throughout west Kentucky to help with succession planning.
- Local chambers of commerce offer leadership assistance through programs such as Leadership Paducah. Stacy Thomas, leadership director for the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, said 30 to 40 people each year for the last 20 years have been trained in a variety of leadership skills. “Participants get the tools necessary to enhance their leadership ability on the job as well as through community leadership and involvement,” she said.
Other resources to build your bench
Local companies also can benefit from many national experts, available through online courses and video series.
Reiter said Baptist Health Paducah managers may take 37 different online courses in the Harvard Manage Mentor Series. They also listen to John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact audio series and meet monthly to apply its lessons to their organization.
The leadership institute’s Bilbrey said studies show that organizations which develop future leaders stand a better chance of sustainability and long-term success. “As leaders become comfortable in their new role, they will find it very rewarding,” Bilbrey writes. “Moreover, you will see the bench strength you need to support a high performing organization being built right before your eyes.”