“The velocity of business today prevents me from spending time on developing my people.” , admitted the senior leader.  I was leading a table discussion among the senior leadership team of a multi-billion dollar company, and this leader was humble enough to admit the truth. He’s not alone. Almost everyone is being asked to do more with less. Budgets get tighter and time becomes more precious. In this type of environment, when the velocity of business is speeding up, we can all lose track of the people.

Velocity of Business

Unfortunately this issue is systemic. Development Dimensions International does a Global Leadership Forecast found that amoung 14,000 leaders and HR professionals from over 500 companies, that only 50% of leaders were specifically held accountable for developing people.

A lot of businesses develop new processes and buy new equipment to do more with less and in less time. This may help a company get a step ahead of the competition in the short term.  But when the competitor implements similar processes and technology, the advantage is gone overnight.  

Then everyone is back to asking,  

“How do we do more with less in today’s high speed business environment?”

The answer:  Leadership.

Quality leadership is a competive advantage that will not fade when the competition introduces new processes or technologies.

Getting More Done With Less

As I sat in that boardroom with this worldwide leadership team, everyone was on the same page.  Elite teams need elite leaders at all levels. They all knew focusing on growing their people would make a huge difference. Yet the majority of these leaders humbly admitted that they spent little time deliberately developing others.

Isn’t it ironic that most leaders believe the need to develop the people is huge for the long term success of an organization? But when the rubber meets the road, fixing short term issues take priority over long term, intentional leader development.

The Bottom Line:

While sitting in that boardroom with this high powered group of leaders, we came to a simple and powerful conclusion.  The leaders in that room needed to make people development their priority.

We realized each leader could not spend individual time with everyone inside their organizations. Some of them were leading teams of 1,000s that were spread across multiple continents.  But, they could prioritize the people one layer below them.

Then they could have that layer prioritize one layer below them.  And so on, and so on….

It’s like a pyramid scheme for leader development!

Simplistic? Yes. But what needed to change was the mindset.  Our discussions of a specific development strategy are still in progress.  But the mindset has changed. They believe it is their Duty to develop their next level of leaders.

If something is a priority, we should prioritize it on our calendars. We discussed the concept of Time Blocking.  By blocking out specific and protected times in their schedules, they prioritized meeting with their next level people.

The good intentions of leaders don’t create elite teams, their actions do.  

The leaders in this organization are ready to take action and intentionally grow the people they touch every day.  They are also ready to instill that same attitude in the next level of leaders so people development cascades downward. 

This is how leaders create Elite Teams that can do more with less and keep up with the velocity of business.


Who have you intentionally been developing?

Dave Anderson is coauthor of the Amazon Best-Seller Becoming a Leader of Character – Six Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home with his father General James L. Anderson (USA Retired).

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