As coaches who work with leaders, we’ve noticed one trait that is common to the most successful: identifying and developing the organizations’ next generation of leaders. In fact, leaders we know see this as one of their primary responsibilities, and use it as a measure of their success. It makes sense, doesn’t it? To not develop a strong bench is to short change the organization, with a potentially devastating result.
The leader is focused on job security.
AKA the “No one can do this better than me” leader. He is convinced that he is THE ultimate source of knowledge. Because of this, he sees himself as being the only one who really can run the place. As a result, he is lives in fear of being bypassed for a promotion, especially if it is a direct report. Ironically, this behavior is eventually noticed and he is either demoted or let go – the very thing he feared to begin with.
The leader who is brilliant at her/his job – just not so brilliant at leading others.
AKA the “They’re so lucky to have me” leader. She’s proud of her knowledge, experience & skills. She believes that those who report to her are lucky to have her as a boss. However, she is blind to the importance of developing those direct reports. The result is a demoralized and uninspired staff who feel ignored. This is a leader in name only.
A retiring leader
AKA “My mind is at the golf course … I think” leader. This is someone who has one foot out of the company and the other wanting to continue to occupy the corner office. Although he likes the sound of ‘retirement and the related freedom, he is questioning the sense of diminished value in terms of the work he has done for a lifetime. In this conflicted position, developing his staff is not even on his radar. He has a key decision to make … get behind the new leadership and direction or, do himself and others a favor and make the move into retirement.
Of course, the above ‘types’ do not complete the list. In fact, we’re sure you have additions. Feel free to send those along and we’ll post them.
One of our clients employed an interesting exercise. The CEO directed everyone in any kind of a management role to list all of their responsibilities. The next step was to list anyone else in the company that could also fulfill that responsibility. The three leader types described above were clearly evident in the responses. However, one response stood above the others: a supervisor identified people within her department who could do each one of the supervisor’s responsibilities as well as she could. When asked if she realized she had just replaced herself she replied “I know, and I also know that I’m good at what I do. I’m confident that the company will find another position in which I can accomplish the same thing. She was right! The company did just that. It became clear that this kind of confidence is what they saw as critical to creating within their leadership ranks.
Regardless of where you are on your leadership journey, take a good look as where you stand in developing your bench. The worst that could happen is advancing your own climb faster!