Develop leaders but don’t clone them

Identifying and recruiting new leaders is a passion of mine. I get excited when I see someone who shows leadership potential that hasn’t been given an opportunity to develop that potential…yet. They may not even know that they have leadership ability but they might see glimpses of it. I love being able to start building into a new leader and see that “a-ha” moment when they realize their God-given gift.

But when I see a new leader, I have to avoid a big trap. I have to make sure that I don’t try to turn them into a 2.0 version of me. I also have to make sure that I’m not trying to shape them into a cloned version of anybody else, the next “_______.”

Not all leaders are middle aged, white suburbian businessmen who drive BMW’s and have a Blackberry. Leaders come in all sorts of shapes, shades, backgrounds, ages, and shoe sizes. Leadership development should be unique for each one because of where they’ve been and where they should be going.

It’s also important to remember that every leader has a different set of strengths. For example, not every leader is wired to be a great public speaker. In fact, some of the best leaders in history weren’t great public speakers. Anybody see The King’s Speech? It’s a true story. If we try to force new leaders into a mold that doesn’t fit their natural strengths and talents, we can malign their development and kill their growing confidence.

When you find a potential new leader, try to see how God has wired them first and then look for ways to develop them, not the other way around. They won’t be you because they shouldn’t be you. Leaders should become the greatest versions of who they already are, not a cloned version or improved version of you or anyone else.

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