Growing Leadership from Within the Ranks

Accepting a supervisory position is intentional. Leadership is intentional.  However, not all supervisors are leaders, nor are all leaders named as supervisors.  Leaders have a strong and positive influence on their peers and on the outcomes of the shared work efforts.  Leadership can be developed.

The ideal situation is for an organization to recognize leaders and to encourage them to assume more responsibility for outcomes of group effort, not just individual effort. However, often supervisors are given the responsibility but are only partially prepared for their new role.  They lack the skills to successfully coach and direct others.

Outstanding employees should be rewarded.  These are the people you want to keep within your organization and help to be successful.  When you promote employees however, you are also giving them a new set of challenges, opportunities, and issues. 

Make sure that you also provide them with the necessary skills and information.  Supervisory management is more than making sure the line keeps running, sales are booming, or employees are punctual.  Supervision also includes conflict resolution, employee motivation, time management, and many other so-called “soft” skills.

Turning managers into leaders may be one of the best things you can do for your company.  Not only do they provide you with a link to the rest of the employees, but they also provide an environment that fosters success.  A leader/manager is able to mesh management’s goals with the workers’ needs.

Participants in a supervisory management seminar series looked back on what they learned that made a difference in their ability to move forward together with their employees.

  • I learned that I needed to listen to employees more; when a decision had to be made that impacted my work group, I asked them for input and remembered to actively listen. 
  • I learned to modifying my leadership style to fit situations. I used a very direct approach with an individual on a tough and tense situation.  It worked better than I had hoped it would.  This was not my natural style, but was what the individual respected and needed.
  • I did some goal setting for our unit.  I also changed the discipline process and feel the results were positive.

The lesson to be learned is simple, yet widely ignored.  Organizations that succeed invest in their employees to create leadership skills, using formal training, informal coaching and a variety of methods.  They offer new challenges to employees, but also give them the opportunity to gain the skills required to meet those challenges.  Allowing your employees to be leaders, instead of taskmasters, offers benefits that the whole organization can enjoy.

Supervisory Leadership programs are offered at UW-Green Bay SBDC.  Go to for more information.


One response to “Growing Leadership from Within the Ranks

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