Is it just me or have you also noticed? Our country – and the world, for that matter – no longer appears to have any leaders of substance who inspire confidence and hope for a better future. Don’t agree? Name one leader today whom you think meets the criteria. Yes, I also battled to think of one.
The fact of the matter is that, as one looks around the world today, one is hard put to name someone who looks like they’re able to take people to a better reality.
Take a look at some of the obvious politicians around the world, like Donald Trump, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe, Malcolm Turnbull, to name a few – and ask yourself if any of them exactly inspire you with confidence.
I’m not suggesting they’re all incompetent, but have any of them said or done anything this year that made you sit up and take notice or earned your respect?
Of course, I have not made mention of our own politicians …
The fact of the matter is that the world – and our own country – are being “led” by people who are not really leaders. Sure, they’re occupying leadership positions, but they’re not leaders in that they have a vision for a better future and have the capacity to lead people to that better reality, which brings me back to my original question: where have all the leaders gone?
It seems like the leadership positions in many countries have been hijacked by people with personal agendas – people who want the power and the glory but who don’t have an understanding of the need for leaders to serve the people they lead.
While the business world has no control over who leads countries, they do have control of who leads their companies. This begs the question: if there are no political leaders of substance and integrity, are there any good and competent leaders in the business world? And will there be in the next five to 10 years?
It all boils down to succession planning. Companies who have failed to develop their next generation of leaders in the past are now suffering, or will suffer, the same fate as countries who have political parties who have failed to develop their next generation of leaders.
What would be better? Would it be better to select, hire, grow and develop your own leaders who, by the time they get into the top positions, have an in-depth understanding of the company, its culture and its people because they have been part of them, or would it be better to hope for the best – hope that “someone out there” has been trained sufficiently to be trusted with running your company?
My sense is that there is also a leadership vacuum in the workplace because not enough is being done to consciously develop leaders for the future. The myth of instant fame and overnight success makes a good headline but won’t help a company that requires astute, insightful, intelligent, conscious leadership that has to be developed over time.
I remember Huey Lewis (of Huey Lewis and the News fame) many years ago accepting an American Music Award. In his acceptance comments, he said, “I just want to thank all of our fans who supported us over the past 15 years until we became an overnight success.”
Every musician knew what he was talking about. He was referring to the time that musicians put in playing and singing for years at every dive they get a chance to play at to become known. Some never get known outside of those venues. It’s only the few that get the breaks to play on the world stage.
He was also referring to the time that musicians spend on the stage being but a fraction of the time they put into practice and rehearsals, which the audience never sees, so that when they’re on stage everything looks easy. In the same way, future business leaders who want to rise to the top of the corporate ladder need to be prepared to put in the time and effort to practice and rehearsals so that it’s easy when they move into leadership positions.
Those who are currently in positions of power and influence in their companies need to become talent scouts to spot the talent the company needs and then give them a chance to develop their leadership skills away from the eyes and ears of the “audience” so that, when they do appear on the stage, they lead with skill, ease and compassion.
As you look around your company, do you see anybody with the potential to lead the company one day? If you do, make sure that they are developed to perform in a way that inspires others to perform so that the company rises to new heights.