What separates thriving businesses from those that struggle?

It’s not a question that invites a simple answer.  But one key factor is the ability to attract and cultivate people with leadership potential. Over the years, I’ve noticed that businesses with strong leadership cultures are almost always on the road to enduring success.

To fully appreciate the value of leadership, look no further than the military, which expends incredible resources teaching people how to effectively lead others. Or the Disney corporation, which maintains a massive leadership program to ensure that all theme park visitors receive the same amazing level of service.

Here’s the good news: Although not every entrepreneur has the budget for a top dollar marketing campaign or extensive market research, virtually everyone can foster a leadership-driven culture — and here’s how you can do it.

Developing your internal leadership team

There’s no getting around it: Even though most entrepreneurs want to be involved with every facet of their business, you can only spread yourself so thin. That means you must rely on others to help maintain a standard of excellence. Leadership starts at the top and filters down, so it’s essential that you set a positive example and enlist others to do the same.

Identifying the right leadership candidates is an essential part of this process. If you’re looking for a great leader who can help galvanize your staff and take your business to the next level, here’s the truth: That person is likely already in your employ.

Cultivating leaders from within, rather than seeking to hire someone from the outside, makes sense for a variety of reasons. First, you’re familiar with that person, and that person is familiar with your business. Even the most impressively credentialed job candidate is still a wild card to some degree. You simply can’t be certain what you’re getting until you work with someone in the trenches, day to day.

Once you’ve identified the right candidates, make sure that you offer them clear, reasonable goals. For those who truly buy in, provide encouragement through positive feedback and incentives. Remember, leadership begins with you, but you can amplify its positive effects exponentially by building a motivated team of internal leaders.

The takeaway

Employees become deeply inspired when they see co-workers assume leadership roles, earn promotions and gain greater responsibility. By tapping the leadership skills of your internal team, you’ll build a deeper sense of loyalty and inspire your employees to greater heights than they ever imagined.

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