As a leader — whether at home, at work, at church, wherever I am — I’ve got one job that’s more important that any other. I need to replace myself.
I’m not going to be at this particular stage in life forever. (I hope not, anyway!) My responsibility as a leader is to find the people who have the unique mix of attitude, skills, and abilities that could make them great leaders in the future. Finding those people and getting to know their goals and dreams for themselves helps fill the leadership pipeline so that when I move on, there are people — even better leaders than me — who can pick up the baton and run.
How do I find these people? I look for these qualities in those around me on a daily basis:
- They are self-starters. They don’t need my permission to solve problems. They’re actively looking for problems to solve and things to improve, and they bring them to me to tell me what they’ve done — not to ask me what to do next.
- They are creative. They’re not afraid to think past ‘what we’ve always done’ or the current limitations they face. They’re not afraid to take risks or propose unconventional solutions. The fear of failure or of sounding crazy doesn’t keep them from pursuing good ideas.
- They see ahead. They’re looking for the questions they need to be asking that aren’t being asked now. They’re looking for the problems that haven’t been presented yet. They’re looking around corners, over hills, across the horizon to see what might be coming and where they may need to go.
- They communicate. And they communicate really well. They’re proactive about addressing issues, as quickly and supportively as they can, rather than letting them fester. They take the approach that Jesus laid out in Matthew 18, speaking the truth in love to people directly. They debate ideas, not people. They solve the problem while saving the person.
If you’re a leader in any capacity, one of the most important things you can start doing today is looking for ways to replicate yourself. If you want your leadership to truly make a lasting difference, you need to start looking for the emerging leaders around you today.
How are you actively looking for the leaders around you?