Leaders overestimate their ability to develop others. We think charm, communication, and character can do it. They go a long way, of course, but people have to embrace the vision and values of the leader individually and collectively or there will be little or no development.
I have been guilty of thinking I can lead anyone. I have thought I can develop anyone. It has caused pain in my own life as well as others for a number of reasons.
One reason is that I care about people and have a strong belief in people. I want them to succeed.
Secondly, by and large, people I lead know my vision and values. That makes me think they have embraced them.
Thirdly, I know I am not going to change my vision or values. That makes it painful for both of us, especially when the other person really doesn’t embrace them. The other person is typically thinking they can change my perspective, and I think I can change theirs. This leads to hurt and misunderstanding because we typically can’t change each other. It leads to people saying, “I wasn’t led well” or “They didn’t follow well,” when the reality is that you never really were on the same page to start with.
It never works well no matter how gifted the leader is or how talented and competent the follower is. Until the vision and values of the leader are embraced by the follower, there will be little or no development.
So what does it take on the part of a leader to develop others?
Clarity on the vision and values. Crystal clear statements that this is what we are about. These are our values, and this is where we’re going.
Conviction. The leader believes so strongly in the vision and values that no matter who disagrees and what it costs, he/she won’t waver.
Character. The mental and moral qualities that enable a person to deal honestly and courageously with reality.
Consistency. Despite the ups and downs of life, the leader displays consistent leadership in the vision and values.
A leader will not be able to develop anyone without these qualities and choices.
So, on the follower’s part, what does it take to be developed?
Confidence in the leader’s vision and values, combined with the trust and humility to follow.
Coachable – The follower is willing to receive direction and correction.
Character – The follower is completely transparent and open with their motives and actions.
Consistency – The follower is not on one day and off the next. He/she is consistent in cheerfully and wholeheartedly following the vision and values.
This is true across the board in every relationship. There are several kinds of people who are in your life, and they all play different roles. T. D. Jakes defined them this way:
Confidant – They are into you and therefore into your vision and values. They are willing to be by your side whether things are up or down. They believe in you, your vision, and values.
Constituents – They are with you because you are going the same direction. They really are only with you because you have the same destination in mind. They will leave you when someone or something better comes their way, or someone promises them something faster, no matter how hurtful or inconvenient the timing. It is very unwise to build your plan around them.
Comrades – They are not with you because of your vision and values. They are only with you because they are against what you are against. You have the same enemy. They are only with you until the enemy falls. Jakes says they are like the scaffolding, in place to erect a building. Once the building is done, the scaffolding comes down. Once the mutual enemy is down, they are gone.
Both constituents and comrades demand your loyalty as long as they need it, but when they no longer need it or find someone they deem to be better for them, they are gone.
Wisdom is to recognize who people are in your life and love them all as God commands. But take care of your confidants. They are into YOU as the right leader for their life and work. The only time they will leave you is if your vision or values waver, or if they cannot get sufficient time and input from you in correspondence to their investment. Confidants are in for the long haul. Recognize them and invest in them. Develop them.
The people you want as your core team members are confidants. The reason my wife and I have been married for 30-plus years is because we both embrace the same vision and values. We are into each other as a person. The reason 50% of people end up in divorce is because they never were on the same page vision-wise or value-wise. It was their looks, income, etc. but not who they really were in vision and values. It wasn’t the person—it was what they offered.
On your team, you may temporarily hire a constituent or comrade for a temporary need. But don’t be foolish. You will never develop them into what you need unless they embrace your vision and values and do not try to adjust them. You will end up misunderstood and hurt, and likely your team will also. Don’t count on them to build you. They will leave you when you least expect it or go against the vision. Recognize your confidants and build into them.