Isn’t this a great question? It’s one we don’t really talk about too much. But I’d bet we all could agree on this statement—good leadership is hard to find. And when you work for someone with really great leadership skills, it’s amazing how fun and fulfilling work can become. So, let’s take a brief look at this subject a little bit deeper.

How do folks get into leadership roles? Many times, the person who’s best at their functional role is promoted into the leadership position the next time it’s open. The person with the most sales becomes the sales manager. The engineer with the best ideas becomes the engineering director. The person who can assemble products the fastest with the least quality problems becomes the production supervisor. That’s how a lot of people get their start in leadership.

Let me ask the obvious question. We recognize that they can perform this functional role at a high level, however, does that make them a leader of people? It does make them the best at their job—but can they lead, teach, and motivate others to achieve these same levels of performance? And the second point to consider is—what do we do to equip these new leaders to—in fact—lead?

Are they provided with leadership training? Is there a set of expectations for how they will lead? Or do we just wish them well, and watch and see how they do. Perhaps they’ll read a book on leadership and get some ideas. Perhaps they’ll seek out training on their own. It’s very possible that they’ll pattern their leadership style after their boss—the one who promoted them. That’s the person they need to please. If that person subscribes to people-centric leadership principles, it’s likely this new leader will emulate that. Likewise, if their leader is a screamer . . . well, then we may have another screamer on our hands.

Leadership is a critical part of the company and plays such a vital role in the company’s success—yet we appear to leave this important part of our business up to chance. How many leaders are there in your company? That’s how many different cultures you potentially have within your organization.

In manufacturing, there are specifications and inspection points to insure everyone does it the same way and the output meets the criteria we’re aiming for. In terms of leadership, we leave it up to each individual to determine how they will lead those who are entrusted to them, and we really don’t check in on them unless we start receiving complaints. Does that maximize what’s possible for these individuals and for our organizations?

There are companies out there promoting an intentional approach to leadership. One example is the Barry-Wehmiller group where they have their own leadership institute following the principles of what they call Truly Human Leadership. Unfortunately, groups like this are few and far between.

What do you all think out there? How do we improve this area? Our leaders deserve our support—our employees deserve better, and our company will reap the benefits if we can come up with an intentional plan for leadership.