1. Many people are expressing a lack of talent in the industry. Do you agree?
Abelson: I used to think so. However, as I began studying what that really meant, what I have found is there are very talented people in our industry. The issue is that they have gaps in their skill set and as leaders, we haven’t been willing to make the necessary investments in training to close those gaps. Instead, we deal with costly turnover and the gaps we find in the new person’s skill set.
I am a big fan of Richard Branson’s quote, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”
2. Why do you think there is an issue with leadership today?
The biggest issue is that leadership isn’t taught at any level of education. We assume it will come with age and experience. While that could be true if everyone had great leaders to model, that isn’t always the case. And since we tend to reward “top performers” with roles deemed, and promote them to supervisor or manager, people are often left to model people with short-term success tactics, rather than modelling people who are nurturing the long term success of the business and employees.
3. How does an organization know what kind of leaders they have or need?
There is a great deal of information on this topic. I think a very logical and manageable approach are the 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. Here is a quick overview:
Position--(Rights) People follow you because they have to
Permission--(Relationships) People follow you because they want to
Production--(Results) People follow you because of what you have done for the organization
People Development--(Reproduction) People follow you because of what you have done for them
Pinnacle--(Respect) People follow you for who you are and what you represent
4. What can leaders do to grow themselves and their organizations?
Leaders have two responsibilities. First, keep learning and growing. Second, give your most valuable asset, your time, to others. Become a mentor and share your talents and gifts with others. But learn how to be a good mentor. It is a significant responsibility and should not be taken lightly.
5. What about for aspiring leaders?
For future leaders, you also have two responsibilities. If you haven’t begun your growth journey, do so. And find a great mentor. Someone in your workplace, church or community. And when you find one, be respectful of that relationship. Make sure you plan your time with your mentor and prepare yourself with great questions they can help you with.