Most Authentic Leaders wear at least two hats. The first of course is the hat of leadership. Leadership focuses on the people in the organization. People are what make an organization what it is. People are important, in fact, absolutely vital to the success of an organization.
The second hat is the hat of management. Management focuses on the nut and bolts of running an organization. There are a ton of seemingly urgent tasks associated with managing a business or organization. In reality many of them are not all that important.
But forever, managers and leaders alike have fallen into the trap known as the tyranny of the urgent. Once in that trap they spend way more time handling urgent matters, often, very very often, at the expense of the truly important things. The things that involve their people.
One of those things, perhaps the most important thing, that gets buried in the tyranny of the urgent is developing the people who will one day lead the organization into the future. These are the people who will either maintain or even grow your culture as a competitive advantage.
Developing these future leaders requires an intentional and deliberate investment of time. It requires that the Authentic Leader invest a piece of themselves in the success of their people. Authentic Leaders invest time to know and understand their people’s goals and objectives. It’s through that process that they learn about their strengths and developmental opportunities.
When seeking to build a strong bench of future leaders they look for particular qualities that can grow into Authentic Leadership. They make note of an individual’s ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication means both speaking well AND listening well. It means being prepared to share ideas during a meeting and being able to defend their talking points with evidence and support materials.
Authentic Leaders want their future leaders to possess outstanding human relations skills. The ability to build solid relationships is critical to any leadership role and ALL relationships are built on a foundation of trust. So today’s Authentic Leaders look for honesty and integrity in their future leaders.
Leaders help groups of individuals become a focused and disciplined team. Leaders who build leaders observe their people to see who everyone gravitates to. Is there one person who other people consistently go to for help and advice? That may be your future leader.
Authentic Leaders know that all leaders lead by example, whether they intend to or not. So they look for people who model the culture and values of the organization. They also want their future leaders to possess strong personal values and most importantly, live according to those values.
They know that everyone makes mistakes. They also know that not everyone recovers from those mistakes. So they look for people who first of all are not afraid to make a decision. They pay particular attention when one of those decisions go wrong. They want to see the level of perseverance in the person and their creativity in fixing the wrong decision. They watch closely for the person’s willingness to accept responsibility for the mistake with integrity. People who attempt to hide their mistakes, or worse, shift responsibility to someone else, will never be an Authentic Leader.
So, how about you. Are you working daily to strategically develop your “bench” of future leaders? If you’re not then I would submit to you that you’re missing a huge part of Authentic Leadership. That’s the part where you leave your organization in even better hands then when you were first given the helm.
To make that happen you must keep yourself out of that trap of the tyranny of the urgent. One way to do that is to set aside time each day to work with, get to know, and build relationships with your people. Each day. All the time. It must be a priority. It must take precedence over the urgent things that may add no long term value to the organization.
Your success as a leader depends a little bit on what you do today. But it is ultimately determined by what the people you leave behind do tomorrow. If that causes you to make developing a strong bench of future leaders a priority today, than the objective of this post has been accomplished. 🙂
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