I’m back in the office today after a great break over Christmas and as is the norm to my morning routine, I pulled out the book, Leadership Promises for Every Day- A Daily Devotional by John C. Maxwell and read the January 3rd reflection. But since it was my birthday yesterday and I wasn’t in the office, I thought I would read the reflection for January 2nd too! It was entitled, “Grow a Leader- Grow the Organization.”
I’ve been fortunate to be in formal leadership roles since 1991. During that time, I’ve written about, talked about and taught about leadership. I’ve benefited from working alongside and learning from some of the greatest leaders (thanks Dorothy Cowell and Guy Tetrault to name but two) and I’ve also experienced the opposite which, were just as important learning experiences. The bottom line is that leadership counts more than what anybody wants to admit. From the January 2nd reflection:
The strength of any organization is a direct result of the strength of its leaders.”
- Weak leaders = weak organizations
- Strong leaders = strong organizations
I’m not sure I believe in the statement that we have naturally born leaders. I think great leaders are made and grown through their experiences and the mentoring from others. Growing up, I watched my father in the cutthroat world of junior hockey always demonstrate honesty and integrity. Two of his former hockey players, Kelly Hrudey and Pete Peeters have often spoke of those qualities of my dad. I’m not sure where he learned it from but I do know that he was always purposeful in demonstrating those qualities to all those he interacted with in his work and in his home. It will be one of my greatest accolades when I decide to retire if those same qualities are spoken about me and my leadership.
We have a duty as leaders (formal or informal) to teach and mentor, to guide and direct. Sometimes the direction required is blunt but that should be rare. Most often, our mentoring comes through our actions, simply lived. It is gentle persuasion, leading with questions not answers and most importantly for the benefit of the person being mentored and not us personally – this is not for our own egos.
Our world has a leadership crisis because we too often see poor examples of leadership. We are bombarded through the media and all of those reality TV shows about what constitutes leadership and how to get ahead in the world. We’ve come to believe that nice guys finish last and the only way to get to the “top” is to be ignorant, arrogant and plain nasty. And while there is truth that it has worked for some, I find it hard to believe that the majority of the organizations or governments led by these types of individuals would be considered strong and/or healthy!
Organizations who want to be or remain successful must invest heavily in leadership training. They must be on the constant look out for those individuals (both internally and externally) who are committed to a collective vision and not simply their own careers. They must seek individuals who demonstrate integrity and honesty and then grow them to their greatest potential.
We are experiencing a “graying” population in organizational leadership and without an intentional effort to grow more leaders we will continue to have a shortage of the “right” leaders. A call to action must be heard to grow more leaders not more followers. Be intentional in your leadership development programs to grow leaders who will make your organization stronger not merely by profit or test scores but through empowering more of your personnel. Surround yourself with the very best people who have better skills than yourself and then let them unleash their own potential.
By concentrating on strong leadership, strong organizations will result.