By Michael Holland –

Recently I was watching one of those home remodeling shows and the host was showing off the before and after shots of wood trim in a house.  To do it right, they had to put in a lot of work to strip down the layers of paint that had been applied over the decades.

They could’ve just thrown on another layer of paint to temporarily make it look nice, but eventually that paint would start to peel away in spots.

Old furniture and pieces of wood need 60 grit (very coarse) sandpaper to begin to peel back the layers.  Lots of arm strength, time, and several different grits of sandpaper later and you will finally be back to the original wood.

A new piece of wood needs only a light sanding before applying a new coat of paint.

So it goes with leadership development.

New Leaders

Building a leader requires a light sanding to be prepared for development. Then a solid buildup of strong layers of knowledge and practicing of healthy leadership behaviors can be applied.

Re-Building Leaders

Re-building a leader requires sanding down the old behaviors and habits to get to the real, raw leader underneath.  And then begin to build up the knowledge and practicing healthier leadership behaviors.

We don’t just want our leaders to look good for a bit on the outside.

We want our leaders to have a strong foundational base so that through time, as the wear and tear of leading humans makes its mark, the leader’s character shines through rather than layers being peeled back to review a not so solid foundation.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Grab a peer leader and discuss how well you think your original sanding and foundational leadership layers were applied.
  • Do you have a couple of layers of paint applied to old paint? Are you open to the heavy sanding required to break down your not so healthy leadership habits? Why or why not?
  • Take a moment to think about the top 20% of the leadership hierarchy in your organization.  As a whole, how’s the paint holding up?