The end of the year is almost here, and I know that many companies are going through the same season as my team at The John Maxwell Company: annual reviews.
This is the time of year when our leaders sit down with their team members and go over PPFs for the past 12 months: Personal, Professional, and Financial goals. After reviewing the wins and lessons of this year, each team member will work with the leader to set goals for next year.
It’s a helpful system that we’ve developed to not only inspire our team members to pursue personal growth but help us as a company live out our values. We believe that helping our people reach their goals within the company and in life is an important part of developing each person’s potential.
We also learn through this process that there are leaders who are ready to step up to a new level of leadership. Young or old, experienced or new to the company, we have people who always want to push themselves in their leadership. It’s a great problem to have.
It also means that we have to make sure the leaders above them are growing as well! Nothing suffocates potential leaders like senior leaders who cease to grow. Leadership means constantly lifting the lid on ourselves, so we can lift the lid on our people.
Call it the Leadership Reproduction Cycle.
If you’ve ever seen the 5 Levels of Leadership, you know that the fourth level is people development (reproduction). Growing leaders grow leaders. It’s just the nature of the role.
I recently shared the following insights with the members of my Maximum Impact Mentoring group, and I want to share a shortened version with you. As you sit down for your own performance review or go over the review of someone who works with you, keep a sharp eye out for leaders ready to rise—be they established leaders or people looking to lead for the first time.
There can never be enough leaders. So here’s how you can keep the Leadership Reproduction Cycle moving in your organization.
First and foremost, if you’re a leader, you need to be pouring into other leaders. If you’re a leader at a senior level, this has its challenges, but they’re mostly of the time and opportunity variety: do you have enough time to take advantage of the opportunities you have to mentor the leaders on your team?
The answer is always yes—you just have to be intentional about it.
Maybe you’re not a leader with a team or a title; maybe your leadership is unofficial or simply a matter of your own high standards of excellence. Regardless, continue to pour into the people around you. You don’t need a title to lead—leadership is influence, after all, and you can show others how to use it well.
Look for Potential Leaders
As you use your influence to positively impact your team and others, be on the lookout for people who mirror your best efforts. These are the people who buy into the vision, who demonstrate initiative, who serve as a reflection of the power of growth.
You can recognize potential leaders because they ask great questions, want to offer their ideas when working together as a team, and are more committed to the team’s success than their own agenda. They encourage others, grow in their strengths, and sharpen their skills—and they are exactly the kind of people your organization needs to build around.
Mentor Developing Leaders
For those leaders you identify—or have already identified—the next step is intentional time. Yes, you only have so many hours in a day. Yes, every person to whom you give a mentoring meeting means less work you’ll get off your desk.
But you’re a leader. Developing other leaders is your job. So make it a priority.
Hand off some of those pressing tasks—to one of the leaders you’re mentoring! Instead of complaining about the work you’re not getting done, make that work part of your time with that developing leader. Let them take over tasks they can do 80% as well as you—or as my CEO, Mark Cole says, let them run with an average idea that you might never take on, but will produce powerful growth in them.
Don’t be afraid to show someone else how to do what you do—the sooner they can do your job, the sooner you’re freed up to do something that offers you and the company a greater return!
Move Up to New Levels of Leadership
And that’s the beauty of this cycle: when you are consistently training, seeking, and mentoring more and more leaders, you’re creating the opportunity to move up in leadership yourself, where you can keep the cycle going for future leaders.
It’s never too late to start the Leadership Reproduction Cycle in your organization. You can begin this year with something as familiar as the performance review. In fact, because the cycle is a great measure of organizational health, it might be the most important metric you examine this year.
Because if your team is consistently reproducing new and stronger leaders, you’re in a great position for sustained success.