The key to cultivating the next leaders of your organization is to work every day to help the candidates get what they need in order to make their next steps.  By “cultivation,” I mean gardening – not training, grooming or developing.  Cultivation takes time, sunshine, water and manure. You should require candidates to make the same investment of themselves.  Any potential leader who isn’t willing to do that should be removed from your list.

To read the rest of this article from Austin Business Journal, see: Cultivating tomorrow’s leaders should be a priority for execs

Sometimes the next steps are easy – mastering and demonstrating specific skills.  The methods for learning may also be easy – training and practice.

More often, though, it’s not that easy.  The biggest challenge is mastering more difficult people skills – for example, making necessary adjustments of personal attitudes, learning how to lead different types of individuals.  You will have to weed out individuals who have poor attitudes – negative, defensive, arrogant, righteous, narcissistic, abusive bullies.

Many small business leaders concentrate on what they’ve been told they need to do in the workplace: develop vision and goals, bring in new clients, oversee daily details and monitor monthly earnings. Their meetings focus on tasks and tactics, on the urgent and daily business.

Since they don’t take time to cultivate their leadership team, they end up complaining that their candidates aren’t stepping up.  But cultivating the personal capabilities and people skills of the individuals they depend on is their most important task.

Managers of leadership candidates can play crucial roles without overburdening their schedules.

The key is offering yourself and your time – continuously, honestly and frankly.  Give up your excuses for not doing this personal, on-going mentoring, such as “too busy, don’t like emotion and personal interactions, I’m a big picture person, the worthy people will learn by themselves.”

If you keep putting off cultivating, you’ll continue being overwhelmed.  And you’ll wonder why your best people don’t develop – or why they quit.