How to Train Your Leader

If you own your company or have become a leader in your company, there will come a point where you will need grow and you will need to hire a manager/leader or you will need to train your replacement manager/leader so you can advance in your position.  Many times you are tasked with training your new leader just after you have grown your business or have just become a leader yourself.  At this point, many times, small business’s bring family in, or friends. The large business’s hire the up and coming business graduate.  One of the biggest mistakes in starting to train your leader is to avoid asking yourself if you are a leader. Look in the mirror and really try and nail down if you are a leader or are a keen business negotiator or perhaps an expert in your field or even just a great salesperson.  The issue lies in that none of these traits make you a good leader.

So, what is a leader? Google leadership and you will get thousands upon thousands of suggestions, definitions, videos, and books.  So the question begs, are you a situational leader, transactional leader, coach, commander, etc.?  The task of training leadership is often assigned to the most experienced or talented person in the company, but the question is the same again, are they a true leader? Can they train your next leader?  It is a common mistake in companies to leave the training of your future leadership to  Betty or Bob, the ones who have been with you for 25 years.  You trust them implicitly and they know the business inside and out.  Typically this results in some very technically proficient trainees. The question remains, does that make them leaders?  “Great players don’t always make great coaches”

I recently watched a Ted talk by Peter Anderton Titled “Great leadership comes down to only two rules”. It keys on some points that I believe are vital to leadership as well as the people that train leadership.

Peter discusses leadership and the studies of leadership briefly for the last Millenia. For thousands of years the experts have been in search of the secret of leadership; are you born with it, can it be trained, is it situational,  etc? In Peters opinion there are two basic rules of leadership that have been diluted and hidden as we no longer look for the keys to leadership, we search for the silver bullet.

So what is rule one? Rule one is it’s not about you.  Not in a servant mentality kind-of-way, nor is it a democracy kind-of-way but in the best interest kind-of-way.  It is not about coddling, hugging or hammering your trainee, it is about you wanting them to be better. You have to have your students best interests in mind, their personal interests, their professional interests, their psychological and economic interests.  To be a good leader it will require all kinds of leadership at different times; disciplinary, kindness, democratic, situational and the list goes on.  Rule one is the first thing you need to pass on to your future leader, in action and thought is“It’s not about you”

Rule two is the most important rule in my opinion.  It is the rule that most of us have thrown away as we gain experience and advance in position.  It is the first rule we forget as we gain confidence and expertise.  It is the rule we ignore as we proudly discuss our mistakes and our overachievements, plaques, and ribbons. It is the fastest to fade as we feel the power or of our new authority! Rule two is It’s all about you.  It’s about how you act and how you react.  It’s about how you take your experiences only to use them to make clouded judgments (That’s how we have always done it). The person that is a true leader should be working the hardest on themselves. It really boils down to how you improve yourself so you can improve those around you.

Leadership is never perfected, it is not a miracle that you suddenly discover one day.  It’s a lot of hard work, experience, and effort. So, how do you train your leader?, by remembering that “It’s not about you” and more importantly  “It’s all about you”.  The true leader looks in the mirror and says “if I want anything to be different it starts with Me”.