Friday, November 11, 2011

One Generation Away from Disaster

Pet peeve: 4x4's and other beefy vehicles that creep over railroad tracks and speed bumps. These are the same vehicles that climb mountains of boulders, yet the owners I see baby the equipment as if it's a small two-seater Miata that would crack in half if it hit a pothole. If you've got the ability, use it.

I developed some leadership skills in college leading a campus fellowship group. We had to develop new leaders all the time. In a one to three years, we would be moving on, and we needed replacements. Each year, we had to identify and bring them up to speed. Not only was this practical but it fit the "use it or lose it" axiom. If you have leaders in your organization, and you're not using their abilities, they will get bored, disenfranchised, disengaged and move on....within a few short months or years.

An amazing thing happens too when you stretch the capabilities. I've been in plenty of factories that figured out how to reinforce machinery so that it was capable of producing faster than its specifications would admit. Those companies had teams that wouldn't accept the limitation easily. I've also been in factories where the equipment was allowed to "creep over the railroad tracks" so that it wouldn't be damaged.

The difference was in the leadership and the development of other leaders. The leaders in the companies that were exceeding expectations pushed people beyond what they thought they could do. They gave them responsibility for projects and leading teams. They supported them and buoyed them up when they started to sag. They identified new leaders among the members of the teams and found chances for them to prove themselves.

One easy way to identify new leaders in your company: listen for people describing where they take leadership positions in their church or fraternal associations. Those people identified your people as leaders. Why haven't you?

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