How Can Your Employees Discover Their Inner Leader?


All directors and HR managers have one picture in their heads: their employees working at full capacity; motivation, efficiency and productivity at a constant, high level; and all deadlines are met. All the customers are happy and the employees are happy because they are able to earn bonuses for surpassing the targets.

This ideal, wished for by many managers and employers, is not so easy to achieve. Your employees are, above all else, human, which means that bad periods are inevitable: sometimes they will fail to meet a deadline, whether it is because they’ve lost their focus, or due to some other reason. Motivation will decrease. The role of superiors in this story is following how their employees manage their delegated projects and tasks, to know their employees’ goals and what it takes to accomplish them.

Constructive feedback
A culture of constructive feedback will eventually lead to people wanting to learn new skills, to develop in various areas and gain leadership abilities. Since every company wants to see such people on their team, we will give you a couple of tips on how to use constructive feedback in order to help your employees become leaders.

Focus on the situation, not the personality
Leaders have a high level of self-awareness of the performance and efficiency which they demonstrate in the execution of their tasks. In order to develop leaders among your employees, it is necessary to constantly evaluate their work, so that they can have a detailed picture of it.

Performance evaluation of your employees can be risky as well. Some employees might be keen on hearing both good and bad news, but most of them will start defending themselves if they suspect personal criticism is coming their way. That is why you should be extra careful about one very important thing: never attack your employee at a personal level. For example, the statement “You are not good team player” refers to a person’s character. Employees will respond negatively because this phrase is a general assumption about who they are as people, not as employees. Such phrases are far too general, which means that they won’t help your employees become more self-aware. That is why it is better to focus on a certain situation and behavior that was present at that moment. Suggest concrete steps so that your employee can change his behavior or habits. The statement could be reworded as: “You will see how your performance will improve once you start cooperating with the whole team and begin to communicate your ideas clearly”.

With this sentence you are analyzing the situation (a team project / work), you are identifying the problem (performance) and you are offering a solution (communication improvement). If you are guided by this feedback construction, far greater impact will be made on your employee, since that person will be aware of the problem and, in addition to that, will have guidelines for fixing the issue.

Use concrete examples
Avoid coming to general conclusions and using unclear sentences. If your employee has demonstrated irresponsibility or a lack of focus, you should provide an example in which such behavior was apparent. When you witness a situation in which a certain employee hasn’t responded well, you should take notes on it, provide information to them during the next feedback session, and tell them how they behaved, how you felt, what the reaction of the rest of the team was and what could be done differently in the future.

Let’s go through one example. “During a meeting for the current marketing campaign, your team was asking you a lot of questions but they didn’t get much instruction from your side. That’s what has led to confusion, task delays and avoiding of responsibilities. I think that delegation is a skill you should work on. That is the best way for you to develop yourself and your team.” You highlighted a particular event, you found a cause of the problem and a consequence, and you also listed the things that could be improved. This sentence, though, is still not enough for an employee to know what to do. They know what the aim is (better delegation), but how can they achieve it? That is why your next step is to present a solution to such a situation.

Offer a solution
People will never be efficient in reaching their goals if they’re only guessing what the next step is. That is why it is important to use constructive feedback in which you can present to your employee the action steps that are necessary for reaching goals.

According to Harvard Business Review, 57% of 900 participants in a study say they prefer corrective feedback, and the majority of them considered corrective and constructive feedback to be helpful in improving their performance.

Once you get feedback, you should always start with the positive things and give them credit for their success. An employee shouldn’t feel like a failure, they should understand that there are many things they does well (in addition to the mistakes they has made recently). In the end, corrective feedback is always positive – it is oriented towards solutions and the future, not towards past performance. A successful leader will certainly take responsibility for their actions – they will be aware of the mistakes and bad things, but they will also look for ways to get back on track, on their path towards achieving their goals.

Set short-term goals together and establish goals that are oriented towards personal development (as in the previous example: “You should focus on developing delegation skills, not on carrying out project activities.”). Be open and direct when you say to your employee what you want from them – doing so gives the person a goal they can strive for.

Provide them with coaching
Hiring a coach is an activity that can help you most in developing leadership in your team. Depending on your needs, you should hire a person for team coaching or individual coaching of particular team members. A coach will guide your employees towards the goals they’ve set and help them develop strong leadership skills. You shouldn’t take this profession for granted, nor should you neglect the way coaches work with employees – it is important that the person coaching your team is professional, structured and solution–oriented. Through coaching, employees will set their personal and professional goals and find a way to achieve them; a coach would be there to guide them towards their goals and show them the most efficient way to achieve them. Eventually, you will have a team of people who are efficient, who know what they want and how to get it done. Your company will be destined to succeed and grow, due solely to the change made among your employees.

Ask for feedback
As much as you would like to give feedback to your employees, you should also learn to ask for feedback on your work from them. One of five employees leaves their job because their superior doesn’t know how to take criticism or suggestions. If you avoid that, how can you expect others to take it? Show your employees that they can initiate change in your company as well. You will gain their trust and respect, which is the most important thing at the end of the day, since it will lead to all of you working as a true team.

How will you create a culture of leadership development and applying constructive feedback?

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