Leadership development: The Important First Boss

May 2, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development doesn’t start with a class or an orientation. It begins with a mental model of leadership. That makes an aspiring leader’s first boss really important.

Leadership development and “leadership trees”

People who write about athletics refer to “coaching trees,” how great coaches tend to learn their craft by working for other great coaches. Luke Knox and Anthony Gulizia put it this way in their ESPN article about the influence of coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick titled “The Bill and Bill Connections.

“Just how much have Parcells and Belichick influenced today’s NFL? We mapped out how almost every NFL head coach can be traced back to the duo.”

Is that true in your company? Take a look at the top leaders who came up in your company. I bet that most of them worked for a few impactful leaders early in their career. Anders Ericsson says it’s about mental models.

Leadership development and mental models

A mental model, in this sense, is an idea about what good performance looks like. For an aspiring leader, it’s developing a mental model of what good leadership looks like. That’s the first step to becoming a superior leader.

Leadership development and the first boss

The first boss a person has in your company is the one who provides the mental model for what leadership looks like. If you want to influence how an aspiring leader develops, pay attention to the first boss they have.

A leader who helps the team and team members succeed will start an aspiring leader off right. If their boss is a helpful coach, aspiring leaders will begin their career at your company imagining that coaching is an important part of good leadership.

As Alexander Pope said, “as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.”

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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