One major responsibility of leaders is to develop other leaders. As John Maxwell has taught us, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This includes not just the people in the corner offices. Leaders are needed at every level of an organization. If the CEO has a leadership level of a nine, but others in leadership positions operate at a level of a seven, that organization can never rise above a six in effectiveness. The sevens have placed a lid on the organization. This means the primary task of the leader is to develop the leadership abilities of others in the organization.
Everyone can grow in their leadership abilities if they want to. The problem is that some do not want to. Perhaps they believe they are already excellent leaders and there is nothing else they need to learn. Some are just lazy and don’t want to put forth the effort. If people are not interested in changing these attitudes there’s not much that can be done except to replace them.
Lazy people and those who believe their leadership abilities are legendary are unteachable, and unteachable people will soon be left behind in our fast changing world. For the past 40 years I’ve bought and read books on leadership. I have shelves full of such books. It is amazing how much has changed in those books. Later-written books focus on leadership issues that the earlier books never addressed. They didn’t need to. The challenges and issues surrounding leadership have changed a great deal in the past four decades, and they will change even more as we continue to move into the 21st century. If leaders are not willing to learn new skills and apply them to their organizations, they will soon have no future in those organizations.
For those in top leadership positions in their organizations they have a responsibility to identify potential leaders and help them develop those abilities. Every organization, regardless of size, needs to have a leadership pipeline to ensure that people are constantly being prepared to step up and lead at the next level.
People in that pipeline obviously need to possess leadership abilities, but they also need to be teachable for the reasons mentioned above. They must be willing to adapt to the changing culture and learn new ways of leading. They must be willing to have a mentor or coach to help them develop, and they need to be willing to mentor and coach those further down in the pipeline from them.
An organization that is not developing leaders is one that will find themselves in trouble when there is a leadership gap in the organization. At some point, death, job changes or retirement will require that new leaders step up, but if there is no one prepared to step in the organization will be in trouble. To prevent that from happening, leaders must be developing other leaders.