“You know what killed our ability to develop young leaders don’t you?” Dave said as he held up his Blackberry. “It used to be that we had to make the hard decisions when our bosses were away. Now, you just email your manager in Timbuktu and she emails the answer back in seconds.”
Whether you are recruiting it, developing it or just worrying about it, talent is the life blood of the role of leadership. Early in our careers we were put in situations where a decision had to me made and there was no one to ask. This made us think through the ramifications of the alternatives and select one. Sometimes we picked the least risky and other times we decided to double down. Sometimes we were right and others times we were off base. We learned from the wins and even more from the failures. If we were lucky enough to work for a true leader, they would return and “coach” us in private. If not, we learned the error of our ways in front of the full team. In either case, we learned how to make the tough decisions.
Dave and I talked about learning to swim (lead) by being tossed into the deep end of the pool and how leaders that are not careful can end up draining the pool. How we use our Blackberry is a decision we make. We as leaders choose if and how we answer subordinate inquiries. We choose whether we let them develop their reasoning and decision skills or just give them the answers. We have the option to respond, “Make a decision and I’ll support you when I return.”
Are you letting you Blackberry drain the deep end of the leadership development pool? How do you make sure it does not?