Recently we put up a new image on the LBDG Facebook page. It was a quote from Sheryl Sandberg; “In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
There are so many reasons why this has to be the way forward. It is not just about the simple fact of the need for making equality in the workplace a reality now, although of course this is a matter of urgency and incredible importance. But it is also about this; if we don’t start to recognise that leadership is about grooming both men and women for the future, then we won’t have any talented individuals in place when the current crop of brilliant CEOs and corporate adventurers are gone.
A lot is spoken about in terms of sponsorship and mentoring in organisations and how vital it is for growth and the continuation of effective management. I cannot stress this enough, with sponsorship in particular – actively supporting another individual to see them achieve their career goals – meaning in many cases the difference between said individuals’ success or failure as eventual leaders.
If you agree to sponsor someone, you are helping to build powerful networks and influencing activity and decision-making for a person you believe has what it takes to make it to the top of their profession or in their own business.
The issue is that currently, there are just not enough of those who are in the higher echelons of their sectors and professions who are willing to sponsor these up and coming gamechangers, entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners. And out of those who are sponsoring – and naturally, the majority are men, because the majority of those in leadership positions are male – it is a case of like sponsoring like.
What does this mean?
It means that we are getting an uneven distribution of potential greats for future leadership roles; not enough women, not enough minority groups generally. It also means that we aren’t getting enough potential greats who are receiving advice, direction, business/career leads, introductions, thought leadership – all of the ‘money can’t buy, schools can’t teach’ skills which only those who have been there and done that can impart. Because, as Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
We need more people in positions of power and responsibility to put their hands up and say ‘I am willing to teach, to show, to engage’. To break down barriers and sponsor those whom they see merit in, irrespective of gender, race or background. Because the virtual and digital world is blind – and this is where business wars of the future will be fought, and leaders created.
If you have what it takes as a modern leader, you can take the lead with the next generation of the great and the good. Step up, step forward and give those who are on their way up the slope the tools to make it to the top of the mountain.
Because we want leaders, not followers, for the future.