As leaders one of our primary jobs is to eliminate the excuses that keep others in our organization from reproducing themselves. And one of the most common excuses you will hear is, “I don’t feel I’m a good enough leader to teach someone else how to lead.” I understand that logic, but the truth is your feeling of inadequacy can actually serve you well in the development of others. As an unpolished leader there are 3 unique things you can offer.
- Let the potential leader learn from your weaknesses. There’s no such thing as a perfect leader. If you’re not good at something simply tell the person you’re developing, “I’m not good at this aspect of leadership and here’s why.” You can discuss the impact that your weakness have had on your leadership, how you attempt to overcome them and how you manage around them. Understand the potential leader can learn volumes from what you do wrong, not just from what you do right. Many times when I am debriefing with a potential leader who has observed me in action I ask, “Tell me what I did right? Tell me what I could’ve done better?” This allows them to learn from my weaknesses and it helps me as a leader as well.
- Let them learn from your strengths. While you may feel inadequate, the truth is you have spiritual gifts and strengths that come natural to you. You may not even be fully aware of those strengths. So developing another leader may be the very thing you need to help you better identify and refine your own abilities. This is why I frequently say; when leaders refuse to reproduce themselves they’re hurting their own development. One of my favorite benefits of training others is it helps me develop my own leadership strengths.
- Let them learn from your authenticity. Healthy leaders are transparent and humble. As you’re open and honest about your leadership weaknesses others can learn they don’t have to strive for leadership perfection. Most new leaders I’ve meet struggle with fear and inadequacy. So being around a leader that’s honest about their leadership limits can be give them the confidence they need to lead. Leadership is caught as much as it is taught. This is why it’s important to remember when someone is observing you they’re not only learning competencies but they’re catching your spirit. So recognize if you shape within that leader a humble spirit you’ve just added immeasurable value to their life.
Don’t wait until you are the perfect leader to start developing others, otherwise you will never experience the joy of reproducing yourself.