Training Leaders: When Ineffective Preparation Meets Guaranteed Opportunity

It’s a beautiful thing when preparation meets opportunity.

Thing is, society no longer values preparation. Proper preparation involves creativity.

Creativity in organizations(education system, business world, the military) is naturally divested from leader to follower. However, creativity has been marginalized largely from the organizations in which we subject ourselves to as individuals. Leaders in education, managers in corporate, and commanders in the military no longer teach the capacity to create, and followers subsequently no longer create freely.

It’s coming…no, it’s already here.

Nothing is more evident of this phenomenon of stripping creativity than the overwhelming evidence. Only 28 percent of organizations in Harvard Business’s most recent survey see Leadership Development as a strategic priority. CEO turnover is creeping back towards an all-time high according to a Bloomberg study. And employee loyalty has plummeted, 51% of U.S. workers overall (60% of mille

nnials) are considering new employment opportunities according to the most recent 2017 Gallup Employment survey.

So, herein lies the problem at it’s core. Transformational leaders must mark the line of delineation; one that firmly divides our desire to train to external capability and the one that teaches to leverage internal capacity. An unknown future is rising to meet us — the world of automation, A.I., and a changing occupational ecosystem demands we train people for tomorrow.

Now this is not a simple demonstrative argument pointing out that leadership is lacking in business or how passion has been stripped from the individual. Rather, it is a deeper psychological argument that plays to the leaders accord — For those that cannot lead, cannot fulfill.

“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way” — General George Patton

Today’s world moves at light speed, expands exponentially in complexity, and fosters ruthless competition to the top. To win means to move beyond yesterday’s modes of leadership. Unfortunately, the rigid and formulaic leaders in the educational system, business world, and sometimes even the military have stifled modes to foster new and more fluid personal growth.

If we are preparing our minds’ as vehicles to intersect opportunity on life’s super-highway, better we build one that can merge safely onto traffic, rather than one that is unable to steer or have the speed necessary to keep up.

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The Perils of the Capability-Mindset

Rounds downrange

Instead of rising to meet the challenges of the day, our outdated and bureaucratic leaders are busy “teaching to the test.” According to JC Glick, Former Army Ranger, Leadership Consultant and Author of A Light in the Darkness: Leadership Development for the Unknown, [Society] develops capability in preparation for the known — an essay rubric, military formation, a fitness test, or a familiar business problem. There is no

capacity without an underlying foundation of capability. Yet without capacity, there is a limit to what you or anyone can accomplish because capacity is what enables you to adapt to changing circumstances, to uncertainty, and to the unknown whether in a battlefield, classroom, shopfloor, or boardroom.”

JC continues, “In dealing with the unknown there is no strategy, model, or manual that can adequately anticipate the future…Capability-organizations place power in the system — the rules, plans and models that people have to follow…[some] too beholden to business models, interviewers to professional checklists, and headmasters to school requirements. They enable a fearful, obedient environment, one that can have disastrous consequences.”

Capacity-driven leadership that psychologically propels people towards creativity, innovation, and boundless possibilities to critically solve challenges is lost largely on leaders and the systems they create. It is contrary to the “becoming an adult” mantra that manifests itself the thought that we must crush creativity in favor of these power systems.

“One striking implication is that it seems unlikely that creative declines are caused simply by aging brains. If that were the case, it would be hard to explain why the creative path differs by domain, lifetime output, or the time someone embarks on his or her career. After all, late bloomers reach creative peaks at ages when early bloomers are past their prime. So the good news is that it is possible to stay creative throughout one’s life span.” — Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton

The supply and demand of capacity-driven leadership

Funny thing is, the waterwheel of developing and leveraging innovative leadership is what causes it spin in the first place. Yesterday’s leadership punch requires today’s counterpunch. Do we need leaders if we do not create new, growth challenges as a society? We realize the pure economics of it all — the supply and demand curve are inherently self-serving and must co-exist.

Leaders that lack the ability to adopt and execute on a capacity-driven mindset strike criticism and fear into their subordinates. They stand proudly on the rule book, concrete or imaginative, pumping their chest on “how things work around here” or “how things should be done.” This naturally causes subordinates to hesitate to take risks as the fear of reprimand stains the confidence to perform confidently.

To seize the creative license of a subordinate is to lose them psychologically. For when opportunity arises for them to make a difference on behalf of their leadership, they will be ill-prepared.

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I found a book on the subject of capability vs capacity very enlightening. If you currently serve in a leadership role(educator, coach, manager) of any sorts, this book will speak to your soul.

Full disclosure: I am familiar with the author, however I will not collect a commission of any sorts if you decide to purchase his book.