The development of our talent is critical to our growth. As we continue to find and hire new teammates we need to make sure they are properly supported. We do this by making sure every teammate in our organization has a coach. The coach’s primary responsibility is to support and develop those they lead along a growth path that is aligned with their aspirations and talents. They meet formally one-on-one four times throughout the year to discuss the teammate’s goals, needs, performance, and any pathing plans. Since the relationships are very personal, we try and keep coaching responsibilities to a manageable number, usually seven or fewer. With an average of over 20 new teammates per year, we need to make sure the next level of leadership is being developed as well.

In conjunction with our overall succession planning efforts, that is exactly what we are doing. Through thoughtful conversations during their coaching sessions we can mutually identify those teammates who, as part of their growth at Greenleaf Trust, would like to include leading people. It is important that they have both the desire and talent to lead. To enable this continued growth, we created a Next Level Leadership program several years ago. Karen Baldwin, Director of Human Resources at Greenleaf Trust, and I lead monthly meetings with these future leaders. By bringing this group together we can create a cohort of leaders learning together to obtain a foundation to build on as well as management tools and a new peer group to draw strength from. Our meetings also involve interactive discussions with other organizational leaders to learn from their experiences. And, we help them understand that managing people is not necessarily always a promotion. It’s a career path.

We started our meetings this year by reading the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath. The authors bring decades of counterintuitive research in psychology and sociology to shed new light on how people can affect transformative change. Their thesis is that our minds are ruled by two different systems – the rational mind and the emotional mind – that compete for control. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. Relieving the tension between the two can make change easier. In a book club format, we take the lessons from the book and relate them back to their experiences at Greenleaf Trust and their new roles leading people.

Karen and her team have also begun meeting regularly with our Emerging Leaders. These are our new mentors that are just beginning their leadership journey at Greenleaf Trust. Similarly, their discussions focus on talent, coaching, management tools, interviewing and selection, critical conversations, and policies and procedures. Mentors at Greenleaf Trust provide informal advice and help to our newer teammates and interns. They have expressed an initial desire to grow in this manner and being a mentor provides them with a glimpse on how it feels to actually lead people.

We are excited about our future leaders and work hard to make sure they are supported and equipped with the tools they need to be successful. Our investments here ensure that our entire team is supported with a meaningful and caring coaching relationship focused on them.