“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”— Jack Welch
Do you value leadership and leadership development? If not, then I hope that this article will at least cause you pause, especially if you have the privilege of being in a leadership position, (at work, in your business or at home). This article is not so much a “how to”, as much as it is a “please think about it, reflect then challenge yourself for action.”
Let’s revisit my question. Do you value leadership and leadership/people development in your organization? Just about everybody would answer “of course”. Then here’s my next question. Do you provide both incentive and accountability for people development in your organization? Are leaders rewarded and recognized for developing people? Are managers identifying future managers and teaching them the skills to be a great leader? Are you and your people even aware of what those skills are? What I am asking in these questions is how do you, your organization, your business demonstrate supporting what you value? I often hear my clients discuss meeting their goals or reaching milestones on “deliverables”. But what ARE those deliverables? Projects? Sales? Software? These are all important items to deliver. But what about people? If we are going to reach success and sustain success, we can only be as good as the people delivering the “deliverables”.
Organizations need leaders to help ensure that the organization is delivering consistently. And if an organization is going to grow and sustain growth, then so must its people. For any vision to be sustainable, we need great leaders to keep modeling and coaching behaviors towards that vision. The more folks that are able to model the behaviors of leadership, the better.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”— Harvey S. Firestone
I am often in a coaching conversation with an organizational leader who wants to build and develop his or her own career. One of the questions that I ask these leaders is “Who will will replace you when you are gone?” Have you worked to increase the capacity of those around you or have you been the main “go to guy” that cannot be replaced? Sometimes leaders create a team that is extremely dependent on the leader. Remove the leader from such a team and what results is a black hole that is left behind, creating confusion, conflict and a decrease in productivity. AND if such leader is also loved by the team, then the team is not only stuck but also devastated.
As a leader, ask yourself this question– “If I’m not here to do my job, or if I have to leave to answer the call of another opportunity, who will step up and replace me when I’m gone?” Think about it. If your answer is “nobody”, then: 1.You are probably working way too hard, 2. You have probably been “doing” more than leading, and 3. You have just identified an area of great opportunity.
I had a mentor early in my career that once advised me that my job was to make myself replaceable by growing the business and developing others to take my place. I could be ready for the next challenge while creating new opportunities for those who followed me. If you want your organization to grow, your people have to grow with it, to help lead it. The alternative is to have one leader with power and the rest of the people dependent on him or her for instruction, production, accountability and problem solving. Those qualities are consistent with dictating, not leading and can create a climate of dependence not risk taking or leadership development. Your team’s dependence on you is not only career limiting for your team, but it is also career limiting for you. Why would your manager encourage you to leave a black hole behind for him or herself? As backwards as it may seem, make yourself in your current role, replaceable. You will leave behind a legacy of leadership instead of a black hole of dependence.
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
— Ralph Nader
As I noted in my first paragraph, this article is an invitation to take inventory on how leadership development is valued in your organization. But meanwhile, please consider some first steps. In organizations, what is valued is measured and monitored. If you value people development, then find a way to demonstrate that belief. How will you measure it for yourself? How will you measure it for your employees? And if you are the CEO, then how will you demonstrate and reinforce this value for the company? Develop a plan, offer incentive, track your progress, hold yourself and others accountable. In short, don’t just say it, DO IT! Develop a culture of leadership development and not a pattern of dependence.
As this video below suggests (there’s no sound so no need to turn up your speakers), gather your people together, demonstrate, train, educate and discuss what is needed to develop your future leaders.
Thank you for reading this article. I wish you all positive energy, support, and courage as you continue your leadership journey. I welcome you to please share your thoughts and comments with other readers in the comments section below.
Larysa Slobodian MA
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