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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #124: Securing Your Leadership Culture: Five Strategies for Leaders Growing Leaders

February 18, 2021
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #124: Securing Your Leadership Culture: Five Strategies for Leaders Growing Leaders

Having a leadership culture is heavily dependent on your current leaders growing and developing other leaders. John Maxwell calls this the leader’s greatest return. Today, Chris and Perry will discuss five strategies to help you intentionally develop your next generation of leaders and how this will secure your leadership culture.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to The John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results.

Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Geode:     And I’m Chris Geode, Vice President of The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. As a quick reminder before we get started, if you want to learn more about The 5 Levels of Leadership, maybe some of the 360° Leader content that we’ve talked through in the past on some of our podcasts, do not hesitate to visit, and then also Perry creates a learner guide. Every podcast –

Perry Holley:    Do not hesitate to download-

Chris Geode:     Do not hesitate, right now, if you’re going to keep up with Perry, because I’m excited to let you know he’s back to his number game, and we got something coming for you on today’s topic.

So, here’s the title today. We’re continuing our series on this culture, right? Leadership culture, what is that? And how do you accomplish it? And so today, we’re going to talk about securing your leadership culture, five strategies for leaders growing leaders.

Perry Holley:    Like coming home.

Chris Geode:     There it is, five strategies. I love it. So, when you talk about having a leadership culture, let me just come back a little bit and share with some of the things we’ve talked about previously. Your culture is so dependent upon leaders growing other leaders. I often tell leaders it is so much easier to sustain a culture that you have inside your organization by developing those that are currently in it, around it, part of it.

When it becomes the opportunity for them to get promoted versus hiring from outside, even if the outside person may be a little bit more skilled, I would still hedge your bet on bringing up the internal because of a culture. And I think as you begin doing this as a leader, John calls it the leader’s greatest return, and a lot of people think ROI and it’s a financially…

But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the premise of think about someone you’ve invested in and then seeing them succeed. That feeling you had, that return of your time. That’s the greatest return as a leader.

And so as we dive in today, remember a leadership culture is one that values people. It allows people to have their individual strengths and capabilities that they can bring to the organization and add value to the organization. And the organization adds value to them. And they value those individuals.

When you do that, you get people on your team that are highly engaged, and that’s just going to flow right through to your clients, to your other team members, to each other. And that’s what you’re looking for. So, organizations with leadership culture have a growth mindset. They ,embrace continuous improvement. We like to talk about people over profits. So love where we’re going, because I think we do need a strategy. We’ve got to figure out what it is, but then we’ve got to have a strategy to grow the leaders that are inside our organization.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, if you missed the previous two to this, I would say go back and listen to those. And the first episode on leadership culture, we talked about that your leaders, and not your title, everybody can be a leader because we define leadership as influence, not a position you sit. But influence that you hold, that you need to be learning about leadership. This creates what we talked about as a common language that gets everyone on the same page.

Second, we talked about 12 ways… things you should be doing to model leadership. People are watching you, and you can say all day long we have a culture that does this or that, but your actions, your behaviors will determine what it actually feels like to be here. So, there were 12 things we thought you should model.

And then today, I really want to talk about the importance of the leaders in your organization, growing that next generation of leaders so that you develop that leadership pipeline.

Chris Geode:     And I think this is probably the most important one. I think we’ve got to understand that in order to have a culture that’s sustainable, and a developed leadership culture and then it continues on, we’ve got to develop our next generation of leaders. We cannot have a great leadership culture without that.

John talks about the law of explosive growth and the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. And to add growth, lead followers, to multiply growth what you need to do is lead leaders. And this is something that if people said, “What is the thing that stands out to you above all else with organizations that you guys have the privilege of partnering with around the world?” There’s really two things come to mind. Number one, how many people still lead from level one, “Because I said so. Period”?

The second thing is, is that the lid that’s on level three. What I mean by that is that they get, hey, yes, I have a title. Yes, I connect, get permission to lead people. Yes, we got to produce. But then there’s a lid right there and they stop. And they don’t understand the power of level four of reproducing leaders, reproducing themselves and developing activity around that.

And when you do that, back to our opening comment about John saying that is the leader’s greatest return.

So, I gave you a hard time about the fact that we’re back to five. I love it. I’m passionate about the five levels and everything tied to five. Let’s dive in. Let’s talk about these five strategies for developing your next generation of leaders.

Perry Holley:    Well, I saw you go into a spin last week when I threw 12 at you-

Chris Geode:     Yeah, that’s right.

Perry Holley:    Back to five, just to bring you back. Number one, you absolutely must identify the individuals you want develop as your next generation leaders. That sounds so simplistic that I said that, but I’m surprised sometimes when I ask leaders who in your pipeline, who is your next, who is your successor? Who are you growing that’s going to come behind you?

And developing leaders is an investment. It’s going to require something from you. And it requires intentional effort. So, you probably won’t be able to develop everyone to the level of leadership you’re talking about. You’d be equipping everyone, but developing leaders. There’s only going to be a handful of those.

But then, not everybody is ready. What I’ve noticed as well is when I’m identifying to do that, not everybody’s going to want to join me on this journey because it’s going to be work for them too. So, the question I have for you is how do you determine who should make your leadership development effort in?

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Chris Geode:     I think you hit on a really strong point that I don’t want us to just fly by. And that is that you should add value and equip everybody within your influence, within your team. But there are a percentage of leaders, people that you have influence with, they have influence with you, that need to be developed.

And so, I love that you brought that out because what I don’t want people doing is going, “Well, yeah, 20% of my team they need to be developed. The others, they just better get their job done,” right?

So, I love that. So here’s, for me, this is where this starts. It’s really a mindset shift. And this is why I said the two things that come to mind with all the work that we do around the world is this, I don’t think leaders are comfortable with this thought of working yourself out of your job.

And I’ve shared this story before, but you know John, when I was young said, “Hey, you work yourself out of a job and I’ll find another job.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s stupid. No, like I need the paycheck. I’m newly married. I’m not going anywhere. Why would I teach Perry how to do my job? Come on.”

Well, Sarah, sorry. We’re out. And I didn’t really understand. Obviously now some 20 years later, I get it. And he’s proven to me over time that as I do that and develop people on the team as the team grows, there’s always an opportunity for that.

And so, I think that you’ve got to be thinking about who is it that would replace you? Mark Cole asked us one time in a leadership team meeting, he said, “If something happened last night or this morning, you couldn’t be here, who would be sitting in your seat? Who is that person on your team?”

I was like, “Oh man.” That made me really think about what that looks like and who is that individual? And am I preparing them for that? So you’ve got to have that mindset.

Then look for people who are just man, they’re getting things done. They’re movers and shakers that have taken opportunities that maybe you’ve put out. I call this the self-selection process.

Oftentimes organizations will take a digital content piece of ours, they’ll just throw it out on their LMS, let the organization know it’s there. And then they’re tracking to see who is it that’s taking advantage of this growth opportunity? Who on your team’s adding value to other people? Who’s adding value to you? Who are the ones that, man, just have a great attitude no matter what the circumstance is and are extremely teachable?

And then, who’s accountable to their commitments? Who’s holding themselves accountable? Who’s holding the team accountable? Those are some things that I think that can help you as you begin to set your mind right, and looking for those that you can develop.

Perry Holley:    And you read that like it was a checklist, but I actually liked that. It is a checklist of I’m observing. John would say, “Find your eagles.” What is an eagle to you? What does that look like? What are those components? And who’s demonstrating those components?

So, it is a bit of a keep that in the front of your notebook, hey, that that person saw a new opportunity and they seized it. That’s really a interesting characteristic.

Well, that person, they have the most teachable attitude. They just always are trying something. I’m, I’m noticing, I’m taking note of that.

Strategy two, we stepped on it a little bit in the first part, but I do think it’s important that if you’re going to develop leaders for the next level of your organization, that you need to be equipping and developing, and you need to know the difference in those two.

So, equip we mentioned is really what are the skills you need to do your job? So, if people on your team need … if they work with spreadsheets, maybe you want to teach them spread sheeting. If they need to do public speaking, you got to teach some skills there. But developing is really what they need for life. Maybe not for their job, but it makes them a better person.

I thought about, I needed on my last executive level role, I needed to be expert at P&L. I needed to know how to do a P&L. That’s equipping. They got me some help, somebody teaching me how to do the ins and outs of a P&L. But if you want somebody to be a better communicator, a better leader, have executive presence. Those are things you develop in them. Don’t know how you see that.

Chris Geode:     Yeah, and I think as you think about this, remember from an equipment and a developing standpoint, you cannot give what you do not have.

Perry Holley:    That’s right.

Chris Geode:     So again, it comes back, it starts with you, leader. It starts with us. And, I will sometimes say it’s amazing when I am being consistent on my growth plan and what’s coming in, whether it’s audible books, which I know you’re a big fan of, whether it’s podcasts, whether I’m reading a book, it’s amazing what I’m able to give to the team on just what I’m reading and what I’m hearing, what I’m listening to.

Versus, let’s say, if I get into a rut of listening to our local sports broadcast radio, and they’re like, “Chris, I need some help with this.” And I’m like, “Well, it looks like the Braves are thinking about trading…” Right? It has no value whatsoever. So, make sure that you continue to pour into yourself in order to develop others.

Well, strategy number three, expose them to leadership situations. Invite them to join your day-to-day activities. I love this thought about you don’t have to add things to your to-do list in order to begin to expose people on your team to things that they need to be exposed to futuristically for developing.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, it’s an interesting point because I have a group that I coach, we do some group coaching, and I always ask them, the first question I ask is, “What did you notice about your leadership since the last time we spoke? What’s been your strength, struggles, what’s going on with your leadership?”

And it was kind of quiet. One guy said, “You know, Perry, it has been so busy around here. We haven’t had time to lead.”

Chris Geode:     Oh, no.

Perry Holley:    Oh, no. I said, “When you’re busy, especially a time to lead.” And I think John would say, “Never work alone, Bring people with you.”

And I had a leader, one of the most challenging leaders I ever worked for, which in hindsight was one of the best experiences I ever had because nobody ever really challenged me. It was just trying to get the job done and not really include me in it.

But he would say, “We’re going to go to a meeting. I want you to go with me. I want you to sit in the back of the room up along the window. Do not sit at the table, do not say a word, just observe.” And he told me that when we finished the meeting, we’re going to go get a coffee and we’ll talk about what you saw.

I thought what an amazing, valuable learning experience. He was grooming me for my next level in the organization. And he was inviting me to the table, not giving me a voice, but inviting me to come along.

I think even in your busiest times, “I’ve got to go to a meeting, I’m out of time. Hey, come and watch. Hey, we’ve got to go see this customer. Come and be quiet and observe.” If you have something to add, add it. But, I’m thinking all the time so we can do that.

Strategy number four, probably not a lot to say here because we have a whole podcast on it, but you absolutely, after you’ve identified and you’re equipping and you’re developing these types of things, you have to be modeling leadership. They are watching you all the time.Chris Geode:     Yeah. And I love you say this, right? They are watching you all the time. And that’s how it should be. You should be with integrity living out and modeling leadership, and people do what people see with their leaders.

And I think we even mentioned that John says leadership is more caught than taught. It’s a visual sport, and we need to be aware of that. And matter of fact, a recent podcast you brought to us, kind of 12 areas, 12 things that leaders should be modeling for their team.

And so, just a couple of those, go back and let’s do a couple of them. Authenticity is huge. Integrity. Consistency is one that, man, we could talk about for a long time. And courage. So, we need to be living this out if we’re going to be developing people.

Perry Holley:    Well, always think be the leader that you’d like to see others become. If they became like you, would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

Strategy number five is a little bit different from coaching. I say, mentor them. This is different from coaching or providing feedback, which you should always be doing, coaching and providing feedback, but it means that… maybe you could help me out. What does it mean to be a mentor to your next generation leaders? And what’s difference between if you’re coaching someone and mentoring someone?

Chris Geode:     Yeah, there is a difference, and I’m glad we’re talking about this. I think coaching is more performance driven. It’s really question based, designed to improve the person on-job experience.

I’ve heard it said before that in the mentoring, I’m kind of sharing the best of me or they’re pulling the best out of me. And coaching, I’m trying to pull the best out of them.

Perry Holley:    I like that.

Chris Geode:     Right? What is it? And in order to do that, I’m asking questions. I may know the answer as a coach, but don’t need to necessarily share that with them in order to get there. And so, I think there’s a difference that you need to understand between the kind of coaching and the mentoring part when it comes to developing people.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. And it is a different… You’re using your experience when you mentor, and you’re using their experience when you coach. So I like that differentiation.

So, I think if you’re going to have a leadership culture, you’ve really got to be working on these five things, and it requires some intentional effort to do that. So, I know it’s not an easy thing and we’re all busy, but to be thinking about it for the select few that you’ve identified, or you’re not going to have a succession plan.

Chris Geode:     Yeah, I think that the key as I wrap up for us today is this: You have to identify them. And we want you adding value, equipping to everybody on your team, but we want you developing the select few.

We like to use the Pareto Principle. We talk about the 80/20 rule. And so, what does that look like? And then make sure that you’re doing your work. And what I mean by that is not a ton of work to prepare for those sessions. Although that would be beneficial. We’re just talking about making sure that you’re continuing to develop yourself.

And when you do that and you allow them to come along, and Perry’s example of, “Hey, sit in the back of the room, don’t say a word.” But that was a beneficial experience for you. I can think about opportunities that John and Mark have done that with me, extremely beneficial, just to be at or around the table.

And so, as you begin thinking about these strategies for leaders growing leaders, begin to think about those leaders inside your organization.

The last thing I would say is this: there are leaders that have done it for you, and it is your responsibility then to do it for individuals and leaders on your team. And you have something to give. what I don’t want you to do is go, “Oh man, listen, I can’t develop Perry. I can’t develop Jake. I can’t whatever. Like, I don’t have…”

You do. And so, don’t allow that mindset of the inability to do that to keep you from adding value and developing people.

I’ll also tell you this, that I believe that your organization sustainability and the culture that’s there depends on leaders reproducing themselF. It is how you build a bench in a sustainable culture. And so, if we’re not going to do it at the team level, it’s never going to filter up. And so we have to begin at every single level.

Figure out how do you work yourself out of a job? Who is it that if you get the call up to the big leagues, that’s going to step right in at first base, take your place? And when you begin thinking about that, you’re going to begin looking at your team a little bit differently.

Perry Holley:    That’s right, and I don’t overlook what you said earlier, that if you’re struggling as a leader, that you can’t do the… “You cannot give what you do not have,” you said earlier. And I think if you’re not developing yourself, developing someone else is going to be hard, if not impossible.

Chris Geode:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    So, continue to invest in yourself a few minutes every day. And you’ll notice opportunities for you to pour into the life of someone else.

Great stuff, Chris, thank you. And thank you all for joining. If you want any information about The 5 Levels, 360, the workshops we do, the mentor guide feel free to go to and you can find that information there.

You can also leave us a comment or a question if there’s a topic you’d like to hear, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always grateful that you would join us. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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