baby-businessmanWe have had the pleasure of a young dynamic woman start with us recently.   This individual has passion, energy and intellect to burn.  Combined with these natural talents is a fantastic attitude.  The level of altitude that someone will climb to is in direct relation to their attitude.

Enormous potential that can be harnessed to be something great.   Potential however is a little like Stephen King’s analogy around talent.  “Talent is a little like table salt.  What separates a talented individual from the successful one is hard work”.    This notion of hard work is not just perspiration.  For me, this needs to be combined with another important factor which is often overlooked.

This factor that is critical is the influence of role models in the early stages of your career. Role models you can learn from, gain guidance and seek direction, mentoring and support to progress your career.  Get this advantage of great leaders, great role models early in your career and your daily habits, planning techniques, technical skills and other key skills are accelerated from the start.  Terrific and timely feedback, direction, candour are all provided from constructive leaders who care and nurture future leaders in their business.  Learning the habits and behaviours of average and poor leaders has the opposite effect on your leadership effectiveness 

To use an analogy from sport, look at how young draftees in the Australian football league (afl) discuss their first impressions of a club.  “The captain rang me to congratulate me is a common thread.  I can learn so much from the leaders in this club.  The way they prepare for each match is impressive.  The work the boys put in in the background is amazing”. 

These insights give you a clue in to great role models not just in sport but business.  Not just the inspirational leader’s visible actions but what they do in the background.  This includes the way they plan their week, how they give feedback, how they shape strategy and business planning right through how they interact with customers and stakeholders.   Every action, behaviour and outcome should be watched and scrutinised and learnt from. 

The young leader with talent would be wise to then take attributes from each constructive leader they work with and use it to shape their own style.  Their own style can be accelerated as a leader through evaluating experience rather than relying on years of service.   Debrief regularly, evaluate what works well and use these observations to shape your own leadership style.  You draw out others strengths to make your own.

I look forward to the day when interviewing new recruits and the focus is not on what we can do for them or the culture of the organisation which are both important.  However, there are some great probing questions around “tell me about the great leaders you have in the business?  What programs do you have to ensure everyone leads without title?”    That will speak volumes to me that the person asking the question truly has unlocked one of the best well kept secrets in life.  You will become who you associate with or learn from.