“Teaching Leadership To Others” Career Advice from Top Military Recruiting Agency, Cameron-Brooks By Roger Cameron

How do you measure your track record as a leader? Many people answer this by using things like rankings on military evaluations, performance at the NTC, or hitting challenging business goals. While I agree that motivating others to accomplish tough goals is a big part of leadership, real leadership goes beyond simply motivating people to hit objectives. Great leaders develop the long-term capability of an organization by teaching leadership to others. Bottom line: if you are not teaching leadership, you are not really leading.

Whether in the military or in business, it is fairly common knowledge that great organizations start with great leadership. We know this intuitively because the capability of an organization is largely defined by the quality and depth of their leadership. We have all heard of Navy Seal teams or Army Special Forces teams that are staffed from top to bottom with capable leaders. These organizations are almost legendary in their ability to execute and win, largely due to the quality of their people. The same holds true for great manufacturing plants, marketing organizations or sales teams. The organization with the most number of leaders wins.

Having been in the recruiting business for over three decades, I have talked extensively with companies about leadership. Many organizations believe that cultivating leaders comes largely from a great recruiting strategy (i.e., attract and hire great leaders). While I agree that having strong leaders in an organization starts with good recruiting, this is only the beginning. Great organizations not only recruit leaders, they grow them as well.

Who is responsible for growing leaders in a corporation? The answer is at the heart of my message this month. Great leaders are great at teaching leadership to other leaders. However, finding leaders who prioritize grooming other leaders is a scarce resource in Corporate America and the military. I hear military officers often say that the tempo in the military reduces the time available to focus on leadership development. I talk with business leaders who say they are too busy trying to make end of quarter numbers to focus on developing the leadership capability of their people.

Reflect on the people who you think are great leaders. Chances are very high that you feel this way about someone because of the active role they played in developing you as a leader. You judge their leadership skill by their impact on your development. The tough thing is measuring yourself by the same standard. Do people say the same thing about you? Regardless of your job title, the responsibility to teach leadership to others rests with YOU. What have you done in the last year to grow the leadership capability of your organization? How many people are you mentoring in your organization or unit? When was the last time you helped someone improve his/her leadership capability?

Don’t wait to be in formal leadership roles to start teaching leadership. In both the military and business, the opportunity to teach others exists in informal roles with your peers as well. With today’s business climate, it is a great time to launch a Mastermind group to discuss leadership topics at work. There are great leadership books on the market to hone your leadership skills. Re-dedicate yourself to setting a leadership example for the peers around you (especially in the face of difficult challenges at work).

When you are confused about how you are doing as a leader, find out how the people around you are doing. That is where you will find the answer.

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