by Michael Holland

We desire to be led by leaders who are fully engaged with us, fully supportive of our growth, completely in tune with our personality gyrations, mature in their patience and perspective of our season in life, insightful to our motivational triggers, and proud of our effort to accomplish and achieve.  We can see what we want for ourselves in a leader while we’re the followers. We recognize the ways in which a good leader would positively impact us.

But here’s the rub:  The leaders we aspire to be led by are looking for protégés, team members, and young leaders who are already “that type of leader”.  So while you may look ahead to a point in time when you’ll lead in better/different ways, you are actually missing the point that you must lead in those ways now.

Your present is the past of your future.  Your management behaviors today will be the behaviors on which you look back in the future.  How will that “backward glance” appear to you?  Will you be proud of your behaviors, decisions and actions?  Will that past – which is your current present – have been your best work as a manager?  For example, will that minor performance issue you have with an employee today- the one you hesitate to confront- be one of the obvious sign posts you are now using to develop the performance improvement plan or justification for termination?  If you had addressed that issue at the proper time, would the employee’s performance trend line have changed?

The leader you want to be led by is looking for a leader who would’ve addressed that issue in the present. Is your lack of management performance now because you did not become a better manager in the past?

The hard coaching advice is this:  behave as a great manager now. Start today, and you will become that great leader. The easy excuse of “no one trained me to be a great manager” allows you to play the victim.  Great managers, leaders, and people take ownership of their own development and find a way to get trained up.

Are you becoming the leader who the leader you are looking for is looking for?

So, are you becoming the leader who the leader you are looking for is looking for?  You need to become that leader today so that when the leader you are looking for looks for the leader you want to be, you are already that leader.

Coaching Thoughts- For You and Your Peers

  • Who is the “ideal leader” that you look up to? What distinguishes them from the not-so-great leaders you know? Take an honest look at yourself: which one does your leadership behavior match more closely?
  • Think about this phrase: “Your management behaviors today will be the behaviors on which you look back in the future. How will that ‘backward glance’ appear to you?” Are there certain situations that you’ve been avoiding? If not addressed, how might they come back to haunt you?
  • There is always room to grow. What are some actionable steps you can take now to “train yourself up” to become the kind of ideal leader you’d want to have? What new leadership habits could you implement?