I was talking with an executive with whom I have the opportunity to walk. We were discussing his leadership team, and I asked him what he thought the team needed to focus on in the near future.
I was expecting him to respond with: “They need better communication,” or “to learn to work together,” or “conflict resolution.” Instead he said, “Our team needs to answer the question ‘What happens when…?’“ I asked him to explain.
He continued, “Each leader on this team is incredibly competent and capable. He or she has proven his or her ability to lead large numbers of people. However, I’m not sure that anyone on the team is prepared for the day that I am no longer here. That could be a few years or it could be sooner, none of us are guaranteed life.”
I realized that I once again have been privileged to learn from a leader who displayed a keen sense of urgency for the future. His vision did not center on himself, or even the present set of circumstances that faced his leadership team. He was concerned with “What happens when…?”
This visionary knew the importance of investing in preparing his team for what was coming. We put together a strategy and we are executing a plan to prepare his leadership team to perform at the next level. It has been said that great leaders continuously look forward. This executive demonstrated the truth of that statement with his all-important question.
It is easy for us to get caught up in the crises of the moment and forget to invest in our team’s future. This kind of thinking means taking a selfless approach to our leadership strategy. This looks like preparing those around us to fill our shoes and lead at a higher level.
Take the time to ask and answer the question “What happens when…?” and you will make a difference!