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How to make future leaders

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Roger Quinn | Sunday June 20, 2010 6:01PM ET
LeadersYour best employees are the stars who give your company that extra step ahead of the competition. But be aware: instead of getting a great managers you may be seeing them leaving.


You may think it's safe to assume your rising stars are also highly excited and committed to your company, but the reality is different. The fact is that the best employees are in a constant search for a new and exciting job. So, what can you do to combat negativity in your rising stars?

The three attributes that really matter in the success of your future managers are ability, engagement and aspiration. Your rising stars need to have the intellectual, technical, and emotional skills necessary to handle future challenges, especially as their roles in the company become more and more important. They also need to feel personally connected and committed to your company. And they certainly need to want to advance in the company.

Don't delegate the management of your top talent to line managers. Sure, line managers may know employees' individual strengths and weaknesses but leaving the cultivation of your future leaders exclusively to business units tends to narrow the development opportunities of top talent, focusing on the skills required now rather than those needed tomorrow.

Instead, senior leaders and general managers must share the development of high potentials. Your stars will be much more willing to contribute to the company if they're treated like the critical organizational assets that they are.

Emerging stars need to be placed in demanding roles where they have to acquire new capabilities in order to succeed. Don't shield them by leaving them where you know they'll succeed. Your company's future leaders need to be developed and tested in live fire where they must perform under real stress and where there the chance of failure is very real.

Under normal circumstances, high potentials put a lot more effort than other employees in the same roles and their contributions may be even greater if the company has downsized. However, don't take their extra efforts for granted: give your support to your best employees. If your company is in the hard position offer them a small bonus. Don't worry about the amount, it will show your employees that hard work will be rewarded.

One of the strongest move you can do is to share the corporate strategy with your stars. Send them e-mail updates, invite them to meetings with high-level executives, or providing other opportunities for them to weigh in on corporate direction. Let them know they're part of the team that is building the company's future. That's exactly what you want your top employees to do, after all.

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