Leadership That Matters, Part 19

I began this post before I left and upon reading it, didn't like how it fell into the order of things, so it is an entirely new post.  Part of the reason was that it seemed like things might be wrapping up, yet there was still a lot left to be said.  I, like many of you, will probably always be concerned about the legacy of leadership, or rather, what becomes of what we placed in motion when we are gone?  Being a leader is very much like being a responsible parent, or rather, it is EXACTLY like being a responsible parent, in that you set forth values and vision of what you want your child to be in life and hopefully, it sticks.

While parenting is sometimes a crap-shoot, as I know really responsible parents whose kids ended up as delinquents and vice-versa, there is a certain element of parenting that relies on the responsiveness of the child to what they are learning.  Conversely, the environment provided to the child to reinforce that what they are learning applies as well as opportunities to develop and to enjoy success.  

Simply letting your child develop into whatever it is they feel like developing into doesn't work.  Simply letting the people you mentor figure out what it is they need to do to succeed doesn't either.  Mind that I am not a sociologist, I am just an observer of human nature and a student of the art of leading.  But it has been my observation that individuals who are provided an opportunity to succeed, learn to succeed, and if that success is reinforced, they expand on it. If not, they shrink from it.  

In Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, he discusses Terman's studies on the gifted (relative to intelligence) and how IQ presumptively factors into success.  The inference originally was that those with high intelligence should likely rise to the ranks of esteemed scholars, scientists, and other leaders of society.  Instead, these gifted children evolved much like the rest of society: there were successes, there were failures, and there were those who simply existed in the middle.  

The short version is, that after this situation was observed, the study revealed that the influence of parents, or the opportunities provided to those successful students by parents, were the difference in failure and success.  Thus it also figures that the influence of good leaders can create success opportunities in a similar fashion.

When you create chances for your charges to better understand their jobs and their own strengths and weaknesses, you provide an opportunity to grow.  You can make your team, your battalion, your department, or whatever area you influence into an incubator for future leaders.  If that isn't transformational, I don't know what is.  Fill the vacuum with good stuff and don't give the negative and the marginal a chance to fester. Individuals with any motivation whatsoever will thrive in a positive and motivating environment, and that kind of atmosphere will recharge your own batteries as well.


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