Are You Being Trained to Become a Great Leader?

by on March 4th, 2015
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“Credible leaders turn their constituents into leaders.”

—James Kouzes & Barry Posner in Credibility

Sit at the Feet of the Master

Most of the leaders I meet are so bogged down with their leadership responsibilities, they don’t have time to worry about grooming us for a future leadership post in 2032. Many of today’s leaders worry about how they can grab what they need just so they can hang on to their jobs. But of course, they are not all like that—there are some very caring, conscientious and giving leaders who are concerned about passing along a legacy and legions of leaders behind them. The problem is, they’re too busy so they assign an underling to figure out how to ‘develop’ the staff. A poor substitute to say the least.

A Leader to Follow

Leaders who are worth their salt set their own needs aside and make certain they leave behind a legacy of leaders they have personally trained. If you’re in the market for a leader to follow, one who will teach you how to be a leader in your industry, then be sure to keep an eye out for these qualities:

He/she is interested in securing a brighter future for his/her constituents. He/she talks with you at least one hour each month—not just about your job duties, but more importantly, about the skills you need to get to ‘the next level’. He/she helps you plan your career by providing a strategy or a blueprint to follow that will help you grab the brass ring. He/she teaches you trade secrets about success on his/her job; about staying on top; about sharpening the right technical skills; and about becoming a leader yourself. He/she shows you how to sucessfully navigate any political climate. He/she follows Peter Drucker’s sage advice and teaches you what you need to STOP doing in order to improve yourself as a leader. Your ideal leader should live by the Roman maxim: “I give so you may give.” Teaching you the secrets of success should come from an internal desire they have to help you. It shouldn’t be a chore. Think Yoda and Luke Skywalker!

I Give So You May Give

The best examples of this type of leadership can be found in sports. First, there is Coach “K” of Duke’s famed basketball team. Great leadership isn’t necessarily about being the best, as Coach “K” is rapidly becomming. What makes him a great leader is the fact that he alone has spawned dozens of NCAA head- and assistant- coaches in basketball, as well as dozens of successful NBA basketball players.

The late Bill Walsh, the Super Bowl champion coach of the San Francisco 49’ers, was dubbed the “The Genius” because he was a brilliant football strategist and mentor. Since his start in the NFL in the mid 1980’s, he has designed hundreds of offensive plays (known as the ‘West Coast Offense’), mentored 12 NFL head- and assistant coaches who have Super Bowl appearances, as well as dozens of Hall of Fame players who have gone on to lead successful businesses after their playing days were over. Coach “K” and Bill Walsh are the epitome of what it means to be credible leaders.

The Other Factor: You Gotta Wanna

There is actually a growing concern for leaders; it is that very few, if any of their employees want to step up and be trained as a next generation leader. A growing number of today’s workforce if rife with chair moisteners who feel entitled to a paycheck simply because they show up—not on time—they just show up. And, when given an opportunity to take on a project or position of substance that requires hard work, dedication, increased hours in the office, a high profile, accountability and the pressure to perform exceptionally well—they take a pass. So, force feeding this sort of preparation on an employee that doesn’t want it is not only frustrating, it’s futile. That is why our leaders of today try to surround themselves with people who DO want to be trained as tomorrow’s leaders. They don’t settle for the slackers who suck all of the oxygen out of the room.

Look For a Leader Who Wants to Assassinate Himself

Tracy Kidder, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, once said, “You have to be willing to hire people who are good enough to replace you. You, in essence, have to become your own assassin!” Ladies and gentlemen, there is your answer! Great leaders are those who frequently talk about grooming a leadership team around them–or perhaps they often talk about bringing their succession plans into fruition—or perhaps they are interrested in helping their employees move up within the ranks of corporate headquarters. A superb leader is always looking for an opportunity to train future leaders. In fact, they assassinate their current leadership- selves, and re-invent themselves by hiring people who are good enough to replace them!!

Are You Up To The Challenge?

The choice is yours. You can seek great leaders who surrounded themselves with experts who actually know more than they do; or you can work for a loser with low self-esteem who surrounds herself with hacks just to make herself look good and appear ‘necessary.’ Based on the volumes of management/leadership research: if you don’t make following a great leader your top priority now, the time will come when a great leader weeds you out as not being a worthy follower!

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