The vast majority of my career has been spent being developed to lead others, leading others, or developing others to lead. Throughout much of that time, we would be led down a fairly prescriptive path. To be a leader, you’d have to have this experience, go to this course, take this job, etc. There was a specific development plan that a chosen few would develop, and the rest were expected to follow.
Allow me to provide an analogy.
Years ago if you went to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, you would arrive at the main gate and they would give you a map of the park and a cast member would gladly provide suggestions on how best to navigate your way through the day. Over time, people mapped routes through the park, gathered insights, and wrote guides proclaiming how to get the most out of the day. The guidebooks became more prescriptive as modeling software began to reveal further insights about crowd movements and busy times.
Along came smartphones and things really changed. People moved through the parks armed with up-to-date wait times for every attraction, showtimes, character appearances, and more. No longer were they tethered to the guidance of a few insiders who had the knowledge. They could chart their own course. Eventually Disney joined the party. They created their own app, shared all sorts of information, and democratized the process. Now there is no one best way to tour the park, enjoy yourself, and make the most of the day.
The same might be said for developing leaders. There are many paths to developing great leaders. The key is to democratize the process instead of trying to force fit everyone into the one answer. Leadership isn’t about control. It’s about release. Perhaps you should apply the same concept to developing leaders.
Make it a great day!
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.