Leadership is a nebulous quality. It is difficult to define precisely and may cover a variety of operations. However, there is no doubt that employees demonstrating leadership capabilities bring remarkable value to their security integrator employers.  

Before considering what leadership abilities are essential to employees, understand your organizational goals. At SAGE, our top goals are client service, employee engagement, innovation, community involvement and financial strength. Knowing these corporate goals makes aligning ambitions easier for current and future employees.  

The hunt for potential leaders begins early — during the interview process. At these first meetings, look deeper into candidates’ self-awareness, credibility and humility. Do they show an ability to empower others? Do they seem action-oriented? Will their behaviors remain consistent? And three other valuable qualities I seek in potential leaders are integrity, self-confidence and decisiveness.  

If you hire correctly, everyone within the organization has potential leadership capabilities. For example, a project manager isn’t typically on site each day, providing opportunities for technicians to show leadership. Here’s a chance to showcase their communication skills, explaining to clients what problems may exist and how they can be resolved. Other required leadership talents include job knowledge and social skills. 

Some employees require a gentle push to get them to act in areas outside their comfort zone. Here are examples of non-executive team members becoming leaders outside their original job descriptions. 

We have a business operations manager who has never done public speaking. After showing tremendous job awareness, we asked her to represent SAGE before other industry executives. We provided her with relevant information and then ran practice drills. She learned new skills and gained the confidence to present at this year’s PSA TEC, and now, she’s also sharing her knowledge with her other team members.  

This same person cross-trained less-experienced business operations coordinators so that if one member takes time off, a colleague picks up the job, whether handling service tickets or importing projects into our project queue.  

When project managers or engineers get overloaded with work on a pressing deadline, one of our operational leaders rolls up their sleeves and helps get the job done. They show their team integrity and decisiveness. Greater confidence is gained in their skills and a better understanding of the pressures on the teams. That makes them better and a more empathic leader.  

But it’s crucial as executives that we’re careful to not ask our employees to take on tasks so far above their skill levels that they are doomed to fail from the beginning.  

How, specifically, can you foster leadership skills in employees? One of the areas we regularly focus on is professional development. No matter the person’s role, we get them involved quarterly — or more frequently — in programs to provide them with leadership tools.  

We coach many less experienced team members and encourage our more practiced staff to engage in activities such as PSA’s Next Generation Leadership Committee. They get to hear the challenges that their peers are experiencing as they move through different leadership roles.  

Every employee must have a realistic chance to advance from virtually any position within the company. Start with monthly one-on-one conversations to discuss each employee's challenges and professional goals. Talk more about their future with the company in more formal quarterly reviews.  

Whether it’s a technician looking to become a project manager, or an operations manager wanting to become a regional director or vice president, let them know the precise actions they must take.  

As employees look to advance in your company, management needs to invest in their professional development. Examples might be providing time to gain project management and cyber certifications from the Security Industry Association or participation in PSA committees where employees learn from others to benchmark against them. 

Good leaders can be developed. I participate in two mentorship programs, one each from PSA and SIA. These monthly opportunities provide a chance to consider topics such as team conflict and resolution, relationship building, decision making and finance — many employees have never seen a profit-and-loss statement. We discuss work-life balance, time blocking and corporate responsibility. Helping a young person grow within the professional ranks is a tremendously rewarding experience.  

Mentorship, both in-house and through professional organizations, helps our businesses benefit from a more educated and empowered employee base. Providing opportunities for education and advancement creates a continuous supply of new leaders to drive our entire industry into the future. 

Finding employees is difficult in today’s tight job market. Security integrators battle manufacturers and those in related industries such as IT for top talent. It’s vital to portray your business as an exciting place to learn and grow.  

Take a leadership role within your executive committee to develop a clear and comprehensive company description. Prepare the questions — and honest answers — you would expect from job applicants. What are your short- and long-term goals? What can you offer that other employers can’t or won’t? Be ready to talk about your company culture. And have ready examples of similar employees successfully growing within your organization. 

Not all leadership can — or should — come from an integrator’s executive committee. An organization develops leaders throughout its ranks by caring for and nurturing its employees. Good companies help build greater loyalty, initiative, integrity and self-confidence by caring for their people. Great companies take care of their employees and let them take care of everything else.  

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