Hardly a week goes by where a leader doesn’t tell me how they regret not doing more to identify and train the next generation of leaders in their organization. With pain in their voice, they explain what they “should” have done but didn’t. They had the best intentions, but no action. When I inquire about the obstacles that are keeping them from doing the vital work of developing leaders, it generally comes down to two things: First, I don’t have the time; second, I don’t know what to do.
If you find yourself in this situation of not making the necessary investments in your next-generation leaders, you are not alone. Here are some things for you to consider as you develop an intentional plan to install a leadership culture in your organization.
- Are you thinking like an equipping leader? All great leadership developers have developed an equipping mindset. This means that they don’t view leadership development as some special event that has to be added to each day’s already overburdened calendar, but instead a part of everything on your schedule for today.
- Are you an example others “want” to follow? This speaks to your credibility as a leader. John C. Maxwell teaches The Law of the Lid from his “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“, which states, “Leadership ability determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness.” You won’t be effective as a developer of leaders if you are not investing in yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. The best leadership developers are the leaders that know what leadership growth looks like because they are developing themselves as leaders.
- Do you gather your leaders around you? Maxwell calls this The Proximity Principle; the closer potential leaders are to you, the more interactions they will have with you, and the more lessons they will receive. It is incredible how much leadership is “Caught” versus “Taught.”
- Are you asking or telling? Telling is not equipping, it’s bossing. Great leadership developers ask great questions. They resist the urge to tell their leadership candidates what to do or think and instead use questions to uncover how the candidate thinks. Your questions should be challenging and offer the opportunity for the candidate to express their point of view and exhibit their problem-solving ability.
- Are you allowing your leadership candidates to learn by doing? As you move through your daily schedule of calls and meetings, are you delegating and sharing the opportunities to lead? The leadership candidates should be observing you and then be allowed to contribute as you observe them.
John often shares, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way,” this is the model for developing the next generation of leaders for your organization. Developing a leadership culture means that you intentionally develop the leaders around you. Should you have a formal leadership development program? Most definitely. However, using the five questions above will reveal opportunities in your everyday interactions to take your leadership candidates to the next level.
As leaders intentionally focused on developing leaders, we can benefit from investing in coaching for ourselves. The John Maxwell Company offers customizable coaching for you and your team.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.