Stop leading followers and lead leaders.
Picking the right people is a tricky proposition. Many of us have handed the torch to another only to find it is a “beat stick” in their hands. Bringing harmony to a team that has been destroyed by a less-than-capable leader whom you appointed is far more difficult than getting the choice right in the first place.
Even the ancients understood this. This interesting quote comes from Onasander, a Greek philosopher from the first century A.D., and shows that even 2000 years ago men wrestled with these very issues.
“Most men are distressed when placed under the command of ignoble individuals. For no one voluntarily puts up with submitting to a master or a leader who is inferior to himself.” (Onasander, The General 1.17)
Many leaders, given such an experience, will digress back to leading followers instead of seeking a new capable leader to assist in leading the organization. Stop! You need people whom you trust to help you carry the load of transformational change. You can be a mentor. Taking time and investing in another has huge benefits for the future. The time invested in another capable leader will multiply your abilities to lead.
If mentoring sounds like a great idea, you still have to decide whether it’s right for you. The questions below should serve as a wake-up call as to your ability to lead other leaders as opposed to followers.
Do you get excited at the idea of sharing the knowledge and experience that has been given to you, or do you feel that you are incapable of imparting anything of value to another?
Do you enjoy encouraging and motivating people toward a goal and rejoice with them when it is accomplished, or do you make every effort to take the glory?
Are you comfortable challenging people to be better even if you know it may cause them discomfort, or would you rather accept sub-standard work and internalize your discontent?
Do you want to contribute to other people’s growth and success, or do you see it as a threat to your value in the organization?
Can you faithfully invest your time in mentoring your leaders, or are you so absorbed in meaningless tasks that you cannot give anything to anyone without feeling like you are falling behind?
Do you feel that building a leader is the most important focus of your efforts, or do you feel the daily tasks you accomplish are greater organizational contributions?
Can you visualize the future leader that you would like to mentor? Can you describe their qualities and their talents, or are you one that grows frustrated because you grab any warm body that seems willing?
I hope that these questions, coupled with the understanding of the importance of building leaders, helps you make the next positive step toward transformational change in your organization’s culture. Perhaps they will serve as a mirror that reflects the deficiency of your leadership. Regardless of whether this motivates, or infuriates, you are faced with your introspection and that’s a good thing. Knowledge truly is power.