“I would not mind if they made the wrong decisions, I just want them to make A decision”
The words of a former colleague and mentor of mine who is closing in on retirement, and who fears greatly for the leadership abilities of those coming through.
It was an interesting and passionate conversation. Not the first time I have heard this from those at and near the top in many organizations either. I asked what he felt the issues were. It was one of those questions you knew was not going to have a short answer, but he did bring up a couple of things that I also see a great deal and I feel are worth sharing.
Accelerated Development Programs-
“The thing is you can accelerate anyone’s development only so quickly.”
Employed by a great many organizations, especially the oil business, who are perhaps suffering more than most from decades of under investment in people. As a result Oil and Gas have huge succession planning concerns in the industry known as ‘The Big Crew Change’
In order to fully absorb new ideas, skills and abilities there needs to time to apply them and the majority of life’s most important lessons simply do not happen in a classroom. There needs to be a gestation period.
Pressure and Consequences –
“We need to allow our future leaders to mess up once in a while. People need to acquire experience, good and bad”
I replaced the word he used with the word ‘mess’, probably more fitting for this setting but either way certainly a sentiment I whole heartedly agree with.
I suppose I always felt the stakes were high as I was moving through my career. Decisions were scrutinized and it certainly seemed like the pressure to make the right choices was high. BUT, I think there is more pressure today. I believe that the future leaders are judged more harshly. Patience seems to be lacking. Any fans of football ( Soccer ) will tell you that managers and coaches have precious little time to prove themselves compared to a couple of decades back, something I feel is reflected in business too.
As we finished up our conversation and headed towards the door, the passionate response to my question was still pouring out of him. To the untrained ear it could have sounded like a moan, but I know this is someone who cares and is actively seeking ways to help, when many at this point in their career might be easing off.
“And don’t talk to me about MBA’s” I didn’t, believe me, I have known him too long to do that. “This, here, life, your work, if you do it right, this is your MBA”
Bill is a great friend and contributor of Clo-me.com
He is Director of Pacific Asia for IHRDC