Good Leadership Means Developing Other Leaders

Here is a great article about grooming top leaders for your company. The articles focuses on William Weldon and Sam Palmisano, and the leadership training they have at J&J and IBM, respectively.

Both Weldon and Palmisano are spending huge amounts of time and resources on leadership training—not because it's another passing management fad, but rather because they increasingly see it as essential to their companies' ability to compete. "I talk to CEOs all over the world and I can't name anyone who doesn't think this is core and essential," says Palmisano, who says he spends 30 percent of his time on leadership development. With $81.2 billion in sales and 315,889 employees, IBM is spending more than $1.1 billion a year on training and leadership development. Like Weldon, Palmisano moved up the ranks to the top job, rather than parachuting in.

I believe that the #1 job, the biggest resposibility, the most important job of the CEO is to have the right people in the right places, and you can't do that if you aren't developing leadership in your company. When a company hires a CEO from outside, it means they didn't trust anyone inside to run it. It means they aren't doing a good job of developing leaders in-house. Of course, if your company is all screwed up, maybe you need an outsider, but for an otherwise well-run company, that is a bad sign. Here's more from the article:

One clear implication is that companies no longer believe they can find a glamorous, outsider CEO to magically solve their problems. "In this era of nervous boards, directors are interested in homegrown talent versus outside messiahs," says Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, associate dean of the Yale School of Management and one of five Top 20 judges. Adds fellow judge Rakesh Khurana, assistant professor at Harvard Business School: "What really matters are systems that develop and perpetuate talent. We're focusing on the systems that build people."

Exactly. Your people are your business. They should be part of your competitive advantage. Develop them.

Don't misunderstand me though. I am not saying that you *owe* your workers anything other than what was agreed upon when they accepted employment. You won't find me out picketing a company who lays off people or moves jobs to China or Mexico because I believe that is their right and freedom as a company. But, I think that in many cases, maybe even most, that is a mistake. America has some of the smartest, most driven workers in the world and if you can't be competitive using them then perhaps the problem is with the way you run the business. Are your employees motivated, rewarded, and given the chance to innovate? Are they being developed? If they aren't, and you are their leader, then the fault is yours. Good leaders know that people matter.