The First Secret of Developing a Leader

It hit me on the way home that I said the wrong thing.

Warren Bennis quote

I stood and embraced Jack when he walked into the coffee shop where I was meeting with a young leader. Jack’s in his 80’s and an elder statesman in the community where I live.

He looked at the young man, then back at me, and asked, “Is he a good student?” Jack’s question made me a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why.

I said, “Yes, he’s a great student,” and left it at that.

On the way home, about an hour later,  it hit me.

Josh wasn’t the student. I was.

Teacher:

Leaders develop leaders by modeling and teaching leadership. But, every teacher learns before they teach. More important, every teacher learns while they teach.

Leaders are learners.

Learner:

The first secret of developing a leader is teaching about leadership comes second. Learning about them comes first.

Successful leaders always study people.

  1. What do they already know?
  2. How do they feel about their performance?
  3. Do they feel connected and in the loop?
  4. How powerful do they feel?
  5. How do they perceive their role?
  6. What’s important now?
  7. What skills are most important to success now?
  8. Where do they feel uncertain?
  9. Where do they need greater clarity, simplicity, or focus?
  10. What drives them?
  11. What brings them fulfilment?
  12. What are their frustrations?
  13. What are they reluctant to try? Why?
  14. How can their strengths be utilized?
  15. Where might their skills be better utilized?
  16. Who should they develop? How?
  17. Who can expedite their journey?

Bonus: How much control do they feel over their area of responsibility?

Second level learning:

I want Josh to reflect on his journey. It isn’t what I teach. It’s what he teaches himself.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.”

Warren Bennis

How can leaders develop other leaders?