A recent study asked leaders what most influenced their development. Not surprisingly, 85% of them acknowledged that “the influence of another leader(s)” topped the list. Another piece of research by the Harvard Business School revealed that less than 20% of America’s top executives felt that they currently had the existing internal talent to move their companies forward should they need to leave.
KSP recently finished the first session of our Legacy Leadership group. Comprised of a dozen Kentucky State Police Captains and Lieutenants, this three part development course has one goal in mind: to prepare the leaders of tomorrow to someday take over our jobs. Although no one who successfully completes the course is guaranteed a command staff position, our hope is to provide greater leadership insights regarding the executive level challenges that we have confronted and will face in the future. I’m convinced that this type of development is essential to our future success as we maintain our status as the premiere law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth.
It is evident in a variety of leadership positions but none more so than the sports world, particularly the National Football League (NFL). It is astounding to look at the phenomenal number of winning Super Bowl coaches that worked under the tutelage of only a few mentor coaches. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is responsible for developing dozens of leaders that went on to successfully run other Fortune 500 companies. History tells us that truly great companies spend an inordinate amount of time mentoring and coaching future leaders. If done correctly, it can have a long-term rippling effect and should be taking place at every level in our agency.
Are you preparing someone to take over your job someday? The thought is daunting but is critically important if we are to continually move forward. The following are a few tips for you to think about as you help coach those around you:
• Model the Way---‘walking the walk’ is about guiding principles and values. Having clear expectations of those who work for you. Always realizing that deeds speak louder than words and spending time with your people is the most valuable part of your leadership day.
• Inclusion---when feasible, always include stakeholders in the decision making process. Providing transparent information builds trust and confidence.
• Challenge the Process---continually encourage people to challenge the process and be on the look out to fix broken systems or policies. This includes sharing best practices throughout the agency.
• Teaching Moments---these can come at odd times and you must be ready to capitalize on them. It may come in the form of a story or a personal experience of your own and can have a lasting impact on those who are willing to listen.
• Encouragement---support takes two forms: personal and agency wide. Genuine support is invaluable for development on both fronts.
• Selflessness---putting the agency, followers, and peers before your own needs and wants. Great leaders are not self-absorbed and are willing to share their insights and abilities. They are also willing to implement new ideas and give credit to those from whom they originate.
Sharing knowledge and experience is viewed by some as vulnerability and a surrender of power. Paradoxically, nothing could be further from the truth. We will only continue to grow and prosper if we blend personal humility and strong professional will at all levels of our agency as we develop those around us.