I’m Waiting For The Man

Waiting 1Ok, I’ll admit that being a Velvet Underground fan (look that up, hip-hop fans) means I have been waiting for an opportunity to use that song title in a blog post (and never mind that Lou and the boys weren’t singing about something we would generally cover here at The Jersey). They were however, singing about waiting, which is something worth talking about. One point I have illustrated many times previously here is the active nature of leadership development.  It would seem somewhat intuitive that working in an atmosphere where leadership influences and direction are scarce, could generate some movement on searching those things out. What about working in a place that either in concept or practicality, has a strong leadership development program?  Are there certain conditions where the “active” learner should adopt a more passive approach and let the “development” come to them? I’ll make my answer short – Nope. There are none.

Leadership development is a two-way street. It requires a desire to improve leadership skills by the potential target, first and foremost. That means a whole lot of turning and burning on your behalf as much or even more than you may have put into getting the primary skills of your position.  It requires a lot of questions, many of which are about you and your weaknesses (or “areas for growth”). It is a long march and not a quick sprint.  You can’t Wikipedia your way to a term paper on this one. It involves growth, change, and self-reflection, none of which come to you without effort on your part.  Using the inspiration of an opportune leadership opportunity as the occasion to crack a book or ask a question is perhaps the perfect way to do this – wrong.

Waiting 2You are developing as a leader of others at all times, passive or active, sleeping or awake. There are no guarantees that you are developing quickly, or correctly, but you are developing.  Leaders by nature are not passive, so if hoping that the skills were going to be acquired via some sort of intravenous drip while you read a magazine, disappointment awaits. Leadership starts with responsibility and accountability. All experienced leaders are comfortable with these terms and acknowledge and accept them as part of the bargain. Being proactive in the search of improvement is one of the primary qualities of someone who embraces those expectations.  Accepting responsibility and accountability as words to live by before you are even in a position requiring them is about as pro-active as you can get. And that’s the start.

“Being a military professional does not mean waiting for the system to develop you.” – Major Joe Byerly of The Green Notebook

And for those who need to hear it, here’s Lou, David, and the boys….

R.I.P. Lou Reed – 1942-2013