Notes On Managing Future Leaders

4 min read

How do you manage your teams to become leaders?

It's less about delegating tasks.

It's less about one-on-one.

It's less about performance reviews.

It's about giving domain responsibility.

Nurturing your teams to become future leader is about empowering them by giving the opportunities to emulate what it's like to become a leader.

Emulating to become a leader can only be achieved by owning a domain and being responsible to make it a success.

A domain is an area of a business that ranges in scope. It can be a larger domain like a product or marketing campaign, or smaller domain (like email automation, or stakeholders mapping)

Give your team member the responsibility to complete the task - they might complete it and only become a task master.

But give your team member the responsibility of a domain - they might become a domain master.

Mastering a domain = leading that domain

I had a new joiner, Yuri, who is eager to work and prove herself. Instead of giving her tasks to complete, I gave her a small domain (stakeholders map) to own and be responsible for driving it into success.

She started by talking and co-creating with colleagues to identify who are the stakeholders involved in the business.

With a sense of responsibility, she went further by tagging whether they are internal or external stakeholders, and mapped the relationships between.

She even took the initiative to validate with different team members across levels through continuous co-creation and iterate the information periodically.

She made sure that mapping stakeholders is her domain and took great pride in owning it.

Got a question about which stakeholder has negative relationship with another stakeholder? Ask her. She's the go-to person for anything related to stakeholders.

She owned that small domain. And soon after other adjacent domains (persona archetypes, experience journey, and jobs-to-be-done).

Within no time, she became a domain master for product strategy (which consists of smaller domains) and a leader in product strategy in other colleagues' eyes.

After proving her leadership capability by mastering domains, Yuri went on to get promoted as a senior product manager with a significant pay bump.

The talents that will be promoted are the ones that are responsible for the most domains.

Domain responsibility > task responsibility

This is empowerment at best and one under-utilized approach to growing your teams as leaders.

A word of caution.

The approach of giving domain responsibility only works for capable talents with leadership potential, not unmotivated employees who prefer to follow orders and not think on their own.

In fact, managing future leaders is an oxymoron.

Thus, the real headline is leading future leaders (by giving domain responsibilities).