It is human nature for people to fallback on training and knowledge, especially during times of chaos and uncertainty. It is a common response from our military personnel when asked about how they were able to react and take action during combat. They often have said that in the midst of all that chaos, their training kicked in, and they were able to operate with confidence in their abilities.
Not only are their abilities to perform their jobs developed through training, but their abilities to lead are developed as well. When communication is down, the enemy is attacking, and their leader is wounded or dead, our men and women of the military are equipped to carry on with executing the mission because they are all leaders, not just individual performers.
Too many businesses promote their top individual performers to leadership roles for their ability to produce. They neglect to evaluate their ability to lead, and even worse, neglect to develop that person as a leader in the first place. When that top producer is promoted to a leadership role without being developed as a leader, they are set up for failure. As soon as that person encounters a leadership challenge or obstacle, they resort back to what they know, what they are good at, and what got them promoted. They turn to micromanaging those they are trying to lead. They begin to lose trust and confidence of their people, and are soon rendered ineffective as leaders.
Now, I am a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own actions. So, I will say this first: If you are looking at a promotion, or are working hard for one, take responsibility for your own leadership development. Don't wait for your company to train you. Take courses, read books, find a coach, or a mentor. People will not take care of you, if you are incapable of taking care of yourself. You can control how effective of a leader you are through taking initiative and engaging in intentional growth.
What I will say secondly: If you are an organization, you as well can take responsibility for setting your company up for sustained growth and populating your culture with people capable of handling chaos and uncertainty. Engage in leadership development programs, courses, as well as internal coaches and mentors for continuous improvement. Most importantly, the top organizational leaders must also be willing to take part in these programs, themselves, if they are to be a model for people to follow. ("Do as I say, not as I do" is poor leadership)
Developing leaders enables your people to fallback on sound leadership principles when faced with leadership challenges. Leadership Development is pro-active risk mitigation. When you populate your organizational culture with leaders, you have thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and visionaries who can help you through a crisis, and most importantly, contribute to explosive, sustainable growth.
The difference between great organizations and mediocre organizations is found in the quality of their leaders.
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