I pulled the padded envelope out of the mailbox, anxiously looking for the return address. When I saw that the package was, in fact, my advance copy * of Leaders Made Here by Mark Miller, I almost did a cartwheel down the driveway (which would have been hilarious to watch considering I can’t do a cartwheel!). Mark’s last book, Chess Not Checkers, has changed the culture of our organization. I recently transitioned to a new role of Leadership Development Director, so this new book on building a leadership culture got me excited!
I love Mark’s books for several reasons, but primarily because he gives great wisdom in an easily digestible format. It only took me a few hours one afternoon to finish the 130 page fable on leadership development. If you’re familiar with Mark’s previous books, you’ll know the main character, Blake. After his company’s success in Chess Not Checkers, Blake has taken on a new role as the CEO for a large manufacturing company. We meet him during his first morning on the job, where a crisis emerges immediately. It brings to light the lack of a leadership bench at the organization, and once again Blake must overcome this challenge in order to help the company survive, and then thrive.
I love that while Blake’s mentor Jack is mentioned, the core unit of wisdom comes from a team of individuals already in the organization. And no, it is not the executive team. This team is truly empowered to ask questions, seek solutions, and speak into the future of the company. Leadership is not reserved for those in top positions. Anyone who is given the opportunity to influence others is leading.
So how do you ensure “Leaders Made Here” is portrayed in your culture?
First, by defining it. A leadership culture exists when leaders are routinely and systematically developed, and you have a surplus of leaders ready for the next opportunity or challenge (pg.1). Leadership itself must be defined for your organization as well. What is your working definition?
After defining leadership, you must consistently teach it, practice it, measure it, and model it. I’m not going to elaborate on each of those – or you wouldn’t need to go read this invaluable book!
Woven throughout the story is the secondary tale of Charles, a man who was in the midst of personal crisis. Blake saw the value of believing in him and giving him the opportunity to succeed during a season of failures. We follow Charles as he struggles and eventually thrives when given the chance – at a time when it seemed to make more sense to believe in someone else.
Maybe your organization is small, and relies on the “immersion and osmosis” model of filling leadership needs. Maybe you’re going so fast you don’t think you have the time to put a leadership culture in place. Maybe you have a few “superhero” leaders who seem to be doing fine right now, and you don’t see the need to change. Or maybe you want a leadership culture, but you aren’t sure how to get there. This book is a must read.
What will it take for you to say with full integrity, “Leaders Made Here?”
*Heather Kenny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.