Five skills your developing leaders need, and how a structured CSR strategy develops them

Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar. – Orrin Woodward

For the past few months I’ve been working with a larger organisation with around 1,000 staff spread across London and the South East. In any organisation, the development of leadership is crucial. Whether that be the attitudes and attributes of leaders, or development for specific positions. In a large organisation it’s an imperative. And I am delighted that my client will be using the development of their CSR as a means of developing younger leaders. Their on the ground Champions will be people at the start of their leadership journey.

We are all Leaders

Gone are the days when a hand-picked few were expected to become the ‘leaders’. Today’s market demands that the attributes of leadership – responsibility, accountability, honesty, vision, development of others – are present across your team.

But how do you develop new leaders without over-exposing them?

Let’s face it, we all started somewhere. I am personally grateful for the leaders I worked for who saw potential and were prepared to allow me to develop my leadership skills. I cut my teeth in community projects, and it was a great proving ground for many reasons. Looking back, there are five things I learned from my initial projects many years ago which are great for leadership development. And they are core business skills you can develop in your team by handing them a CSR project of any size. It could be a small fundraising event, a change to your environmental approach, all the way up to a Charity Ball.

Five Key Skills

  1. Planning – planning an event or an activity is a great way to start people on developing their leadership skills. For some it may be the first time they have planned anything, and teaching people the basics will help them be more systematic in other areas.
  2. Change management – a plan is great until you try and involve other people! A great lesson to learn early on is that when any kind of change is introduced, there are simple steps that need to be taken to make sure that the idea takes hold and wins support. Creating a vision for what things will be like ‘if we do this’, and showing people where they will benefit are important steps in the process.
  3. Delegating – as much an art form as a skill! Planning and organising a small fundraiser or committee provides a great opportunity to teach newer leaders about the do’s and don’ts of delegating.
  4. Resource management – setting, monitoring and sticking to a budget is a great skill to learn, and one that will help younger leaders in other areas. It also means that you build in a level of fiscal responsibility that will benefit you and your business in the future.
  5. Communication – ’selling’ the initial ideas, keeping people informed about what’s going on, ensuring everything is being done on time and sharing the final results are all excellent skills to learn. For more shy people it may be a stretch at first, but as you mentor and support them and their confidence grows, it gets easier!

I’m continually using CSR as a vehicle to develop leaders, and I’ve used this approach with a lot of clients. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of my work – I love to see people develop and grow. Have you considered how you could incorporate this into your business’ leadership development? It will give your younger leaders valuable skills that will benefit them, and your business, whilst they make a difference for others.

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