More Leaders, Faster

We welcome Mark Miller for the first post in a five-part series defining the core principles of Leaders Made Here.

Step #1: Define It

Have you ever been part of an organization who needed more leaders? I have. It’s happened to me several times over the years. I have experienced this shortfall in schools, churches, and other non-profit organizations, and I’ve also seen this shortfall in hundreds of individual businesses. If you’ve experienced this shortage, you can probably remember the feeling – it is painful!

What do you do when you have legitimate opportunities or challenges and you don’t have any leaders ready for the job? That’s the scenario Leaders Made Here is trying to prevent. The concept is simple: create a pipeline or system designed specifically to create “ready-now” leaders. The ultimate goal is to create a leadership culture.

What is a leadership culture? Thanks for asking!

A leadership culture exists when you routinely and systematically develop leaders and you have a surplus.

When we decided we needed more leaders, our journey took us back to square one. We knew that before we could pursue it, we had to define it. What we discovered were multiple definitions of leadership within our organization. None of them were fundamentally wrong, but differing definitions create many serious challenges. Here are a few . . .

  • Whom do you recruit?
  • Whom do you select?
  • Whom do you reward?
  • Who is capable of more responsibility?
  • Whom do you recognize?
  • Whom do you promote?
  • Who needs which development assignments?

With different working definitions of leadership, consensus on the answers to these questions, and others like them, was extremely difficult. And this list didn’t even touch on the cultural implications such as employee morale, satisfaction, and inefficiency in the training and development process.

Our conclusion:

To reach our full potential as an organization, we needed a common working definition of leadership.

With this realization in the forefront of our thinking, we worked for many months trying to forge a common definition. We interviewed leaders, did global benchmarking, and read a couple hundred books on leadership. Out of it all, we decided our leadership point-of-view would be anchored in the belief: Great Leaders SERVE!

See the Future
Engage and Develop Others
Reinvent Continuously
Value Results and Relationships
Embody the Values

In the aftermath of our project, we were reminded of the critical role character plays in the success of any leader – we agreed. However, we believed we could select for leadership character; therefore, with definition in hand, we naively thought our work was done.

We were wrong – our work was just beginning. My next post will pick up the story from here . . .

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