Here’s How You Turn Every Employee Into a Leader

In their book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, authors Beverly Kaye and Julia Winkle Giulioni describe a new

3 min. read

In their book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, authors Beverly Kaye and Julia Winkle Giulioni describe a new way of thinking about career advancement. “Onward and upward,” they write, “has been replaced by forward and toward.” In today’s work world, advancement is no longer about “taking on more responsibility, managing larger staffs and earning more money.” Instead, it’s about “moving forward and toward a very personal definition of career success.”

As Torrent prepares to launch a brand new leadership development program, this idea has helped us frame the way we think about growth. We’ve always believed that every employee here is a leader and has the possibility to grow as one, but now we’ve got a more concrete way of putting it: We want to equip and advance impact-driven business leaders committed to building something greater in ourselves, for our customers and within our communities to create change in the world.

The goal isn’t to help everybody “rise through the ranks” — it’s to help them grow purposefully in all aspects of their lives. To us, leadership isn’t defined by a job title. It’s defined by impact.

Here are 3 quick tips that can help you build a company full of leaders.

Tip #1: Hire the right people

Yes, the whole point of a leadership academy is to help current employees develop, but that only works if you hire people who actually want to grow as leaders. For manager- and executive-level positions, this might not seem so hard. But what about when you’re interviewing candidates that are applying for roles that aren’t traditionally thought of as leadership positions? How are you supposed to gauge someone’s ability to lead in a more holistic sense?

According to our Director of Talent Acquisition, it’s all about grit — the courage and resolve needed to hurdle whatever obstacles might present themselves. And to figure out how much grit someone has, you have to hear their story. What have they accomplished? What challenges have they faced and how have they overcome them? In listening to a candidate’s story — told in their own words — you’ll be able to assess whether they have the drive, perseverance and dedication that are necessary in good leaders.


Tip #2: Make leadership development available to everyone

Lots of companies offer leadership academies. The problem? They’re only made available to employees in traditional leadership roles. If you want everybody in your company to grow as a leader, the answer should be simple: You need to provide the same resources to the entire team.

What do I mean when I say “resources”? First, here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean traditional professional development training — courses that will provide new skills and certifications. Those are wonderful, but a different thing entirely. Instead, I’m talking about the opportunities and structure for growth that will help empower your employees to make a difference — both in their own lives and the lives of others.

At Torrent, we’ll be focusing on these areas in particular:

  • Social Impact
  • People
  • Customer Centricity
  • Business
  • Technology

We believe a commitment to these areas will best help our team to become better leaders. As you develop your own areas of focus, spend some time thinking about what specific qualities are essential to leaders at your organization.

Tip #3: Always be growing

You’ve heard of “always be closing.” Now, get used to “always be growing.” Why? Our CEO put it succinctly: “If we stop growing, opportunities stop coming. And then people will leave.”

If you want to keep the leaders that you’re developing, you’ll need to provide ways for them to grow inside the company. Because leaders want to grow. They want to test new ideas, try new things and face new challenges.

At Torrent, creating separate lines of business has provided chances for employees across the company to own new initiatives. Initiatives that we’re passionate about, that pique our curiosities and that we might never have otherwise pursued.

Think about how you might create similar opportunities for growth in you own company. What are some strategic areas for expansion? How might employees expand or alter their current roles to pursue their ideal career success? How can you change hierarchy structures to empower more people?

Kaye and Giulioni write that “when you reframe development in terms of identifying and sourcing necessary experiences, you widen the lens of possibilities and allow your people to grow right where they are.” In other words, you can create a company full of leaders.

How will you help your team grow? Let us know in the comments!