Monday, October 10, 2011

The Anointed Ones

As someone who develops training and workforce development products, I cringe when I hear that budget cuts and workforce reductions are being considered. Training is often the first thing cut and the last thing added during tough financial times. I applaud those fire managers that invest in their subordinates because it is the right thing to do--even in the tough times.

A few years ago, I started addressing difficult situations by posing the following question: Does this situation represent an obligation or present an opportunity? A lot of managers view training of their subordinates as an obligation. Leaders know that developing their subordinates for the future is a duty and look for opportunities in the midst of financial hardships. Good leaders find the way.

Nearly as bad as the manager who cuts training is the manager who develops the rare few--the anointed ones. I found an interesting post on the Leading Blog referencing Rajeev Peshawaria, author of Too Many Bossess, Too Few Leaders.

"Peshawaria raises an important question: 'Does it still make sense to identify a few, anoint them as high potentials, and invest disproportionately in their development? As leaders, we are not good stewards of people if we don’t give everyone a 'similar development diet' and let the 'cream rise to the top on its own'."

The blog goes on to say "Peshawaria asks, 'What if the world changes in ways that require a totally different type of potential in five years compared with the benchmarks used to identify today’s high potentials? What about late bloomers—those who may not show early brilliance, but might become very valuable later on? And what about the negative impact on the morale of those not chosen as high potentials? It might be time to rethink the ‘best practice’ of identifying and developing a pool of high potentials.' Amen. Then too, we also might want to rethink what it means to be a leader and stop developing functional leaders and instead develop true leaders that can lead in changing contexts. That’s an entirely different focus."

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