A man came to my house the other day asking for work. I handed him a hammer and some nails and told him to build a tree house for my kids.
In fact, I gave him every tool he needed to complete the job. He should be able to build the tree house if I give him the right tools, shouldn’t he? Not necessarily…
Many leadership training events do the same thing. They enroll people, give them quality tools and claim to be building leaders. Leadership development should not focus on the tools. Leadership development should focus on the person.
The Wrong Person With The Right Tools
Let’s go back to my tree house analogy. If I went to Home Depot and bought the most expensive tools in the store and handed them to the man at my door, does that make him a carpenter. Would I want my kids climbing around what he built 20 feet in the air?
- Is this person trained in carpentry?
- Has he built anything with his hands in the past?
- Are the things he built still standing?
If the answer to these three questions is “No”, the best tools in the world will not make him a good carpenter.
Leadership Growth– Who Are You?
The quickest way to change the direction of a team is to change the leader. Who a leader is at his core will impact his team more than any new leadership tool he is handed.
Too many leadership training seminars focus on tools and tactics of leadership instead of focusing on the character of the leader.
- Why do people willingly follow a leader?
- What character traits do good leaders have in common?
- How do you develop those traits?
- Who are you?
- What makes you a leader?
Without understanding and being trained in these key areas the quality of the tools I have will not matter. The right leadership tools used by the wrong person, become manipulative. A non-carpenter can still swing a hammer, operate a circular saw, or use an expensive drill. But, what will the results look like?
If I want to become a better leader, I need to focus less on the tools in my hands and more on who I am as a person.
The Right Person With The Right Tools
Leadership development should start with who the leader is at his core. Developing the character of the leader is the foundation to leadership growth. It is the one area of leadership that needs to be constantly communicated and reinforced as well.
Definition of Character:
My character is my habitual way of operating.
- Character starts with my thoughts.
- My thoughts become my words.
- My words become my actions.
- My actions repeated over time, become my habits.
- My habits determine my character.
I am the sum total of my habits. If I tell the truth once in awhile I am not a man of integrity. But, if I am in the habit of consistently acting with integrity. Then over time, I will become a man of integrity.
Developing and reinforcing strong character traits is a vital part of growing as a leader. If I develop traits like integrity, courage, humility and trust I will be able to get things done whether I have the best tools at my disposal or not.
The Bottom Line:
A qualified carpenter can still build a solid tree house if the tools I provide him with are adequate for the job. But if that same man is given the best tools, he will likely build the best tree house on the block.
Just like a qualified carpenter who is given the best tools, a leader of character who is given quality leadership tools to lead with will build better teams and achieve better results.
But first we must start by developing the character of the leader. That is the foundation for all quality leadership development.
Have you ever felt manipulated by a leader of questionable character who had good management skills?