Have you ever heard the story about two guys in the woods and a bear? The bear walks up to them and is clearly hungry. The two guys look at each other and run. One of the guy’s motivation is to outrun the bear. The other guy’s motivation is to simply outrun the other guy. Why? It’s pretty simple. Once the bear catches up with the other the guy trailing behind, he won’t pay attention to the other man who is still running because he’ll be eating. 🙂
As I start this process of raising up leaders for our organization, I am sometimes tempted to lead out of the mindset of the man who just needed to outrun the other man in the woods. Can you just outlast or outrun the others in your generation?
As younger generations start to emerge in more prominent positions of leadership, it’s easy to look down on them thinking there isn’t a lot of hope or that their generation is lost. It’s an arrogance in our own thinking that young leaders can’t do things as well or better than we can simply because they accomplish things differently than we do.
I think it’s time to help train young leaders to outrun the “bears” around them, not just others in their generation.
So how do we do that?
I think young leaders could lead in amazing ways, probably even better than we can. How do we set young leaders up for success?
I personally have 19 Habits that I bring any leader through. This is something I started doing when I worked at a manufacturing plant assembling automotive parts. I’ve used these 19 habits in both manufacturing and church settings.
When you envision a leader in your influence being successful, what helped that leader become successful? What habits, attitude, or thought process helped them succeed?
If you lead others, I think it’s crucial that you plan ahead. It’s so easy and tempting to simply live and work in the daily grind of life. Things happen, but if we never take time to plan ahead, we’ll fail. Let’s look at the industrial revolution as an example. Imagine if the inventors of the locomotive spend so much time, energy and resources into this invention that had the potential to change the world, and that’s it. They never spend time thinking or planning for how the train would get from point A to point B. They had a well-oiled machine, but nowhere to go, because there wasn’t a method to transport the well-oiled machine.
Take trains and railroads for example. In the 1800’s, the railroad was the latest technology that changed the world, especially the United States.
In the early stages, companies had to focus on the train itself. Without a method to transport the train, it was pretty useless. So, the next thing they had to think about was the railroad. This was the platform to transport the train from the east coast to the future destination. Once the train and railroad were developed, they needed a destination.
Head West Young Man!
That’s exactly what happened. The railroads headed west. The way humanity moved at this point was on land by muscle, either human muscle or by a horse. The invention of trains literally changed the world. Places like the Hamptons became destinations for the wealthy people to escape the city with more ease. In 1869 on May 10th, our country was changed forever. The ability to head west from the east coast was made possible with ease upon the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
Railroad companies spent time building trains, railroads and future destinations. This process has transformed America in more ways I can explain in this blog. Suburbs became a reality due to the ease of commuting from work to home. Vacation destinations, like the Hamptons, became a reality. Time zones were established based on the train schedules for arrivals and departures.
Leaders, as we develop other leaders and the processes we will use in our workplaces, schools and families, don’t expect instant results. We might underestimate what the rewards of long-term faithful obedience in one direction could be. I’d encourage us to stay faithful in developing leaders and our processes. It’s so tempting to jump ship because we might not see the results we are hoping right away. The reward for sticking to a plan is there. Don’t give up because you might not see the results right away.
Leaders, we need to spend time developing our product, our delivery systems, our future destinations and goals. Helping develop young leaders is one great way to help that process take place. Empowering young leaders will carry our mission further and faster than we ever expected.
As we develop young leaders and focus on the product, systems of development and future destination, we help our leaders outrun the “bears” they’ll face in the wild of the emerging economy and culture we live in today.
Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash