They Chose to Move On

. . . by Jeff Haltrecht

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Learning Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest

I can’t help but wonder if James Warren Jones, featured in David’s opening article, measured his success by the number of people who would do as he instructed.  Holding practice suicide drills to me is a way of measuring control, and it would appear he counted this by the number.

Mr. Jones’ place in history is clearly disturbing, forcing me to think about a key fundamental of leadership that I had not considered before.

While the role of a leader is to build other leaders, I believe the corporate hierarchy system we use forces many of us to count our success – and power – by the number of followers, or employees, on our team, and not by how well we build others.

Is there not a better way to measure our success as leaders?

What if instead of talking about the number of people who work for us, we spoke of the number of people who have chosen to stop working for us?

These individuals gained from our knowledge, guidance, and wisdom to the point where they were confident in their own ability to lead, electing to contribute to society in more significant ways on their own, because of the impact we had on them.

These are the people who resigned, transferred, or succeeded us because they knew to be everything they could be, it was time to move-on.

Perhaps its not about ‘how many’ follow, but ‘who’ we have impacted and to what degree?  Here I’m referring to quality of impact for a few vs. a shallow and misguided impact for many.

Applying this thinking to my own experience as a leader, I know five people whom I worked with in the food industry who outgrew me and have become very successful leaders in their own unique way.

While it’s not a big number, its definitely quality, for we continue to speak and meet in person regularly.   Reflecting on Mr. Jones’ situation, I now understand the importance of these few relationships and how our shared experience is worth more than saying how many people reported to me over this same period.

Take a moment to think of who has chosen to leave your team, because of the positive impact your leadership style has had.  If that’s not the most rewarding aspect of being a leader, it should be pretty close!

Have a terrific day!