Success is All About Growing Others

Key takeaways:
  • Propagate knowledge down the chain
  • Facilitate learning by doing
  • Provide resources for growth
  • Never work alone

John Maxwell, in his book Your Roadmap for Success, stated that the greatest principle he ever learned in the area of developing others was to never work alone.

As simple as it may seem, it is very important in creating a high-performance culture. A concept deeply rooted in Kaizen (a Japanese term meaning “change for better”) states that it should be as important for leaders to develop others as it is to develop themselves. For organizations to survive, a continuous series of top talents under development is required to develop future leadership for the organization.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader, according to John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States.

Leaders with a less well-developed management philosophy are usually less organized and typically operate in a mode focused on meeting immediate daily goals. In our changing world and under such management, staff attrition (especially of talented employees) is predictably high.

These leaders do not embrace their opportunity to achieve more by helping others advance toward their personal goals. This ultimately does not better serve the long-term growth and other interests of the business. The most effective leaders understand the need for developing others and prioritize it.

There should be proper structured systems for coaching to be effective. This is evident from the rise of leadership development programs in many organizations. No matter how important it is to develop others, coaching should not be driven by random decisions.

One of the best ways ensure such structure can be found in how Toyota’s employees learn the rules of the company’s production system. Mangers don’t tell workers and supervisors how to do their work. They use an approach that allows workers to discover the rules as consequence of solving problems. They ask series of questions like:

  • How do you do this work?
  • How do you know you are doing it correctly?
  • How do you know the outcome is free of defects?
  • What do you do if you have problems?

This continuous learning process gives the employee deep insights into his/her specific work, and he or she gradually learns how to design all activities.

This method of teaching eventually leads to implicit knowledge, but it’s only successful when the managers have been able and willing to engage in a similar process of questioning to facilitate learning by doing.

It connects with a Chinese proverb, which states “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I might remember; involve me and I will comprehend.”

Involve others in your development efforts. The future leadership of your organization depends on it.

  • Spear, Steven, and H. Kent Bowen. "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System." Harvard Business Review 77, no. 5 (September–October 1999): 96–106. (Winner of Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research presented by Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.)
  • Liker, J. K., & Convis, G. L. (2102). The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership.New York: McGraw Hill

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.