Planning for the Future: Storming the Beach of Leadership!

by William Rothrock, CSSC, Brant Hickey | March 6, 2024

Are you having sleepless nights worrying about the success of your company or your succession plan because it is dependent on the success of your staff? True leadership can reduce the issues involved in both concerns.

Leadership at a fundamental level involves:

  • Identifying talent.
  • Fostering the growth of your colleagues through creating an environment of self-belief.
  • Limiting your involvement and upstarting your staff’s involvement.

Let me dissuade you from the blind belief that anyone will care more about or work harder in your business than you do. It is your business. However, finding people who comprise most of the characteristics of a “young you” should put you on a good path to determining the future of your company.

How do you identify those individuals? By showing them leadership. Have you given colleagues a reason to care? More importantly, through your leadership, have you given them a reason to believe in you? Cultural leadership starts at the top with you!

Leadership Environment

So how do you lead? Leadership requires multiple environmental factors to thrive. Social, economic and political factors can either foster or destroy a leadership message. A professional work environment involves the following:

  • Outlining workflow expectations
  • Recognizing strengths
  • Constructively identifying weaknesses
  • Rewarding the achievement of organizational goals
  • Identifying “want to” versus “need to”

In college, we studied the ABCs of leadership. However, the lesson my father stressed when I worked with him stood above them all: “Your word is the one thing you must protect at all costs.” If people do not trust you, they will not work for you or with you.

Just because you understand the path you want to take, or the goals you wish to achieve, assuming others are clear can spell disaster. Remember, actively communicating reduces misunderstandings. This can be accomplished by using the following:

  • Face to face dialogue, with equal footing
  • Non-recourse expressions
  • Positive feedback
  • Giving credit for all ideas
  • Being gracious

Valued colleagues will share their ideas while also sharing in yours. Achieving through collaboration should be the goal of any great leader. The saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” Several minds tackling a goal or problem in open communication does the same thing.

Open discourse uncovers flaws or exposes a thread of insight you missed on the first examination of the idea. The biggest limiting factor to achieving a proper course of action is any prior thoughts.

Avoid George Orwell’s Groupthink

Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility. Non-conformity, however, creates the basis for creativity. Therefore, for good leadership to thrive, individuals should be empowered to make mistakes while in a safe environment.

Finally, teachers are leaders of knowledge. While a lecturer looks for conformity and uses the phrase, “You will,” teachers prefer to use, “You can.” The subtle shift in language reinforces the leadership position as a mentor instead of a task master.

Thus, a one-size-fits-all leadership guide to succession planning does not exist. Each of us must walk our own path. But whichever path we take, it must have trust, communication and respect for the individuals we hope to lead at its core. Remember, the leaders you create will be your legacy.

William  Rothrock

William Rothrock

William D. Rothrock, CSSC, is a settlement consultant at Brant Hickey.

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