One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities as a leader, is the development of others. The opportunity to help shape the methods by which your budding leader motivates and inspires others, and achieves their goals is wonderful. Yet, it can be quite challenging at the same time.
One thing I find challenging is the idea (that many organizations follow) that it is better to invest into the already successful, then to invest in those struggling. That is, the organization should invest resources (time, money, etc.) into training, educating, supporting, and so on, the individuals and teams that are already producing results. The idea is, investing in someone that is already achieving, is more likely to bring a greater return on the investment.
The idea is, why invest in someone ok to make them good, when you can invest in someone good to make them great. Isn’t it better to have someone great on your team then someone good? From a business stance, this makes sense. As a business owner, I would rather invest in people (or things) able to bring a greater return on my investment.
However, should this same methodology be followed when dealing with people? Especially, when, as a leader, we are to motivate, inspire, train, equip, enable… others to achieve? Should a leader ignore the challenging potential leader, simply because the “return” may not be as great? What if the return is not immediate, what if the benefits may only be realized years down the road, what then? What if the return is not even for you or your organization, rather, the good of society or simply another organization?
At what point, should we stop investing in others because the return may not be as great as investing in someone else? Is it giving up on one person while investing in another?
Perhaps I am wrong, but I think leaders are to build other leaders regardless of where they may end up. If someone has the potential, build them. If they are ok, but a little time and energy can make them good, then do it. Investing in others should be about them.
However, if it is a business decision, and the potential leader is not the right fit, then help them find their fit – in your organization or another. You are not doing them – or yourself – any good by keeping them around for the sake of doing right by them. Instead, help them find their fit, and lead them from where you are and where they land. This implies that you will continue to lead them until they no longer seek your guidance, someone else takes over and develops them, or both.
How will you handle the challenge? Feel free to respond, I would love to hear what you have to say.