Something They’ll Never Forget

I moved from Cincinnati to New Jersey twenty-seven years ago to start my first real job. 

Soon after starting, the senior leader asked if I would take point on a new initiative. I agreed. Then he said, “we will send you to Chicago to a conference for training.” 

I recall being surprised by the fact that he was willing to cover the cost of the conference, flight (even if it was on Kiwi Airlines right before it ceased operations), and housing so I could attend. 

No one besides my parents had done that before, and I took that for granted.

Looking back, I’m even more amazed. 

I was a green leader. I had no business leading an initiative, but his investment paid dividends for decades. 

At Leadercast, “being a leader worth following” is used regularly. There are many aspects to that little phrase, but one key characteristic is investing in others’ development. 

There are three vital elements to investing in others that will pay dividends for decades.

1 . Development should be individualized. 

I love teams. Teams are the best, but high-performing teams are comprised of well-developed individuals. The best coaches focus on developing an individual’s talents, skills, and abilities, AND they make sure those individuals know how they fit into the whole. 

2. Development should be structured.

The easiest way to think about this is in time frames. 

How do you develop your team members daily, weekly, monthly, and annually?

That first senior leader invested in my development by sending me to a big event annually. He would also take us out to lunch almost weekly to connect. Monthly, he would give us cassette tapes on leadership development. (Yes, I know that sounds old.) 

At Leadercast, we have a slack channel dedicated to celebrating daily wins.  

3. Development should start way before you think a young leader is ready. 

This is the lesson I learned most from that first leader. He invested in my development way before I knew what I was doing. And if I could go back in my leadership roles and change one thing: I would do a better job investing in young leaders before they were ready. 

Oh yeah, one more thing. 

About fifteen years after that initial investment, I became the senior leader of another organization. I was facing a considerable leadership challenge, and I knew I needed some advice.

So I contacted that first senior leader for his input, and he gave me some great insights. And once again, it paid huge dividends.A


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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