We lead for a season and a reason – teach the next generation to lead

lead through mentoringWhen we think of the word season it reminds us that throughout a year we cycle through spring, summer, fall and winter – seasons come and go.  They are with us for brief periods then the next season appears.  In the same way we only lead for brief cycles in our life.

In each season of leadership we are there for a reason.  We are there to lead through a business need and in all cases we must teach the next generation to lead as we follow our seasons.

No matter if you are a corporate leader with hundreds or more on your team or a family owned business with a few employees, you won’t be the leader forever.  In time you may be promoted; at some point in your career you will retire; and of course we all meet the inevitable end of our life.

At each of these turning points in your life, you will leave behind a gap that needs to be filled by a new leader.  Will the next leader be prepared to carry on your legacy?  Are you investing time mentoring your replacement?

Admiral James B. Stockdale, one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy, summed up the results of leadership saying, “What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need for their jobs.”

The true mark of leadership is how the team performs after you’re gone.

If you aren’t teaching someone else how you do what you do, you are letting opportunity pass you by. Your main role as the leader is to prepare a successor while you lead the team.  It shouldn’t be something that is part of your long term plan to get to when you are near the end of your season – that’s too late.  By then you are needed elsewhere –  your next leadership role, the beach, or your eternal reward will be calling.