Birds and Bees of Leadership

Do you remember when and where you first heard about the birds and the bees? Sex-ed class at school? Hanging out with friends? Movies or magazines?

I can remember sitting on the back porch step of our house in Georgia, when my aunt set the stage by referencing Genesis 1:28, where God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. I don’t know about your “birds and the bees talk”, but mine was uncomfortable. It really hit weird when she started drawing the body parts in the correct medical terminology and how they interacted with each other.

Now that I’m married with two children, I get it. To reproduce means to create something similar to you and that involves a fun process of practice.

John Maxwell asked this question, “If you were to reproduce yourself in another leader, would you be satisfied with the results?”

I have spent a lot of time with leaders in both the church and business world. One distinct characteristic I have noticed is that great leaders have two days in mind: today and tomorrow. They take advantage of every moment of today in order to influence every moment of tomorrow. They do this by growing leaders.

Great leaders have two days in mind: today and tomorrow.

How?

We are familiar with a few of the how-to basics:

  • Spend time growing as a leader
  • Find someone to invest in

The basics are helpful, but how can a leader go all the way?

1. Have passion to do it

To merely go through the motions with no powerful or compelling emotion will not sustain you and leave the other leader wanting more. There must be a self-motivated drive inside of us. When we have passion to do something, we intentionally and willingly spend energy and time on whatever it may be. At the end of the day, if we are passionate about reproducing ourselves as leaders, others will experience our contagious desire.

If we are passionate about replacing ourselves as leaders, others will experience our contagious desire.

2. Discover the chemistry

A key decision when reproducing ourselves as a leader is to like the leaders we are influencing. We do not have the luxury of spending time getting someone to like us or hoping we like them. There needs to be an initial chemistry in the relationship before next steps are taken. If we like a person, we are more willing to invest more, and if they like us they are willing to receive more.

3. Time your moves well

Helping equip and grow another leader takes on a formal and informal approach. In other words, you won’t be able to schedule every moment. In fact, the impromptu opportunities are great moments in which to learn because they are in the natural flow of life. It is primarily the responsibility of the leader to remain sensitive to timing and maximize when to push harder and when to go slower. Time plus maximized learning equals going further faster.

Time plus maximized learning equals going further faster.

4. Use the right parts

We have God-given elements that are designed to be shared in the right way and at the right time. Skills. Strengths. Weaknesses. Relationships. Wisdom. When we are self-aware and able to self-manage what God has tasked us with stewarding, we see Him maximize our effectiveness. Effectiveness leads to influence and isn’t that what we want?

5. Leverage moments of foreplay

Every person responds to stimulation differently. Some leaders like the challenge of being given a white board on which to create and try. Others learn best when allowed to fail. For me, I appreciate a framework and the permission to explore what is best while respecting the boundaries. Too many leaders prematurely throw other learning leaders into experiences that should have required moments leading up to the big event of eventually pushing them out of the nest.

6. Commit to the experience

Believe in the process. Be fully present. We are giving—investing in another leader—with the goal of reproducing ourselves. Give it our all. Take our time. The climax for any leader wanting to reproduce him/herself is to let go and allow the leader to move ahead on their own. Celebrate the release. Enjoy it. There is a great feeling when we see a leader moving forward in their journey.

Dale Galloway says, “Some leaders want to make followers. I want to make leaders. Not only do I want to make leaders, but I want to make leaders of leaders. And then leaders of leaders of leaders.”

Go. Grow leaders. There are no leadership blue pills. It takes hard work.