Isn’t it about time we inverted the triangle?

Sep 22, 2021

Great thought from Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman – the creators of Extraordinary Leader – to my mind one of the best assessment tools that there is  “Trees die from all kinds of causes. Sometimes lightning strikes, shatters its trunk, and sets it on fire. Other trees die when insects bore into them, deposit their larvae, and new insects hatch and begin to consume the trees from within. Even more fall victim to root rot. Once the roots become infected, there’s no hope. 

Organizations die just like trees: They can fail from forces at the top, in the middle, or at the bottom.”   So you do have to ask the question why development budgets are as skewed as they are?  The more senior you are the more money is spent on you (and arguably you should have learnt something by then).  The more junior you are (and in need of development) the less is spent on you.

This is why we are so insistent at Defy Expectations that you need leadership at all levels and why we work with organisations to ensure that there is.

Which brings me to that other great piece of corporate mis-thinking – that there is something called High Potential.  There are undoubtedly people who are more intelligent than others, there are people who are better at managing than others, there are people with more emotional savvy.  But are any of them what your company will need in the future?  Often what you do is to create expectations that cannot be satisfied.  And so your HiPos leave when you could have kept them.

In the future you will need great leaders, but you do not know what type of leaders you will need.  Stop pretending that you can guess and get all the leaders in the business up to a good, consistent level of leadership.  Circulate them round the business so they build deep understanding.  Help them understand strategic thinking, give them a spell in sales.  Give them all the tools they need to be future leaders.  Then you will have a genuine pipeline to choose from – and it will benefit you in the short term with better leaders right now.