Leadership development and the why of leadership

November 22, 2017 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is a very adult thing, but sometimes the insights of children can help. A couple of years ago, our grandson, Banks, was visiting. We were all in the kitchen when our dog, Clementine, started trying to get the food on Banks’ plate.

He tried all kinds of evasive tactics, but Clementine was hungry, persistent, and irritating. Finally, an exasperated Banks shook his finger at the dog and said, “Clementine! You are making bad choices!”

It seems to me that we make a lot of bad choices when it comes to choosing who will have the opportunity to practice leadership.

Leadership development and the wrong motivation

We promote way too many men and women who want the extrinsic rewards of leadership. They seek prestige and money and organizational power. Those aren’t bad things in themselves, but they shouldn’t be the only or the most important reason that people aspire to leadership.

Leaders want the intrinsic motivators defined by Deci and Ryan as everyone else. They want autonomy, relatedness, and competence. But the people who do well in the role have one other important driver.

Leadership development and the big why

I’ve studied many leaders over the years. The great ones succeed on three dimensions. They succeed for their superiors because their teams accomplish the mission. The succeed with their team members because they help those team members grow and develop. And they succeed with their peers because they’re good teammates.

Great leaders throughout the organization act that way because they love helping others succeed. That’s a primary, powerful motivation that makes leaders great and that we should select for.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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