by Colleen Cormier, Account Executive for On The Mark Strategies

This is the third in a series of blog posts on characteristics that define great leaders.

When I started writing this series, I was curious about what attributes people looked for in people they report to at work. To get the fastest and most random sampling of answers, I took to social media and asked people to tell me about their best boss ever. I was not surprised by the answers. One of the top responses was a boss who teaches and develops employees.

“I had the best boss ever,” said Barrie Glascock, a respondent on social media. “She wanted to understand the issues and inner workings in all departments. She used that knowledge to teach everyone around her, even those out of her supervision. I would have followed her off a cliff, because I knew she had a plan and had my best interest always.

Great leaders take an interest in their employees. They care about the people who do their jobs well and want to see them succeed. They teach, they motivate and they help their employees advance in their careers. Following are some tips for being a leader who teaches and develops the people who report to you.

Help them create a career plan or employee development plan

As a leader, your job is to help your employees identify their strengths and weaknesses. Use that information to help them achieve their career goals. If they are a valuable employee, help them determine if they can advance within your financial institution, and do what you can to set them on that track. Something that always helped me when I worked at a financial institution was a section on my annual performance evaluation for career goals. My supervisor always took the time to work with me on that section during my performance review.

Train them for their future job

Part of the development process is helping prepare your employees to reach future career goals. If you do not have the skillset to do this, connect them with others in your financial institution who do. Encourage them to talk with people in positions they may want some day. Teach them leadership skills. Approve them for outside training that will better hone their skills. If you financial institution has a college tuition benefit, help them determine if they could benefit from that based on their career goals.

“My best boss gave constructive advice, not criticism” said Kim Martinez, another social medial respondent. “She really wanted us to succeed. She always asked what I needed them to do for me to make me successful. I loved her.”

Be willing to let them go

This might be one of the hardest things a leader has to do, because it means losing valuable employees who get promoted. I have known supervisors who did everything right until they got to this step. I have seen supervisors intentionally lie about an employee’s performance so they wouldn’t get promoted and therefore would not have to be replaced. The question you have to ask yourself is why would you spend so much effort helping someone advance and then not let them go when their big break comes. Great leaders have to do the right thing, even when it makes your job temporarily more challenging.

When Mark Arnold started his career as a marketing coordinator, he was admittedly doing a bad job. At one point, his boss told him, “You will always be a failure in marketing.” He was crushed and transferred to the collections department. Four years later, he went back into marketing and had a supervisor who poured his life into Mark’s career. Countless financial institutions have benefitted as a result. Great leaders make all the difference. Be the leader who makes a positive difference by helping your employees succeed.