Developing A Second Line of Leaders

Number 1 authority on Success is Within leadership, Payal Nanjiani talks about what it takes to groom a second line of leaders – the importance of building a leadership mindset; three crucial traits for leaders; and how to empower your second-in-line.

You have worked with leaders across the globe. How important do you think a second line of leadership is?

Leadership is the backbone of any organization. And leadership transition is more common and important than ever. Second line leaders are critical to an organisation’s performance, as their ability to motivate and direct staff is fundamental. With changing times and cross-generational workforce entering our organizations, it’s almost imperative to build our second line of leadership. Due to the inherent power dynamics of this role (as they must manage relationships with executives as well as lower-level managers; receive directives from above and then carry them out with those below), it is also challenging.

How invested do you find companies in training successors for key leadership positions?

We are in an age where information and resources are at their best. By the nature of the role, a new leader’s action or inaction will significantly influence the course of the business, for better or for worse. Yet, in spite of these high stakes, I have observed that leaders are typically underprepared for and under supported during the transition to new roles. Companies invest millions of dollars in training their leaders. Yet we all know how small the percentage of leaders is, who are successful and are able to impact the company’s results. This is because of the lack of leadership mindset techniques and application of leadership wisdom. Many new managers are selected simply on the basis of being good at their current jobs, given minimal training and then left to their own devices. Leadership is a daily job. It has multiplying effects.

What traits and values do you look out for to identify potential leaders?

Leadership is complicated. It has many facets: respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum, timing — the list goes on. I believe there are three crucial traits every leader must possess – (1) An attitude to finish strong; (2) Genuine willingness; (3) A true commitment to lead others. What matters most is what you do day by day, over the long haul. In my coaching of executives and second line leaders, I look at a leader’s daily routine which tells me whether he/she will be successful or not. I help them to lead themselves because this is where all the results change.

What kind of skills do new leaders need to tackle an increasingly uncertain and volatile future?

Travelling around the globe, speaking and coaching, I have observed the pressures we face in today’s global and competitive business world. In this uncertain and volatile future, one must work towards expanding their leadership capacity. You cannot achieve concrete results consistently in the absence of leadership capacity. The ability to juggle three or four high priority projects successfully is a must for every leader. And for this, one must raise their leadership capacity.

How can the senior leadership act as a catalyst for second in line leaders?

Senior leaders must begin making the shift from Position to Permission to help empower second in line leaders. When second in line leaders feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their senior leaders and each other. And that can change the entire working environment. The old saying is true: people go along with leaders they get along with. So senior leaders must build an environment where second in line leaders get along with them.