All of us can remember the mentors who touched our lives and made a lasting impact. We can all remember those who guided us through our journey of life. One of my important mentors I met by chance. Little did I know that this person would forever – through his leadership, wisdom and belief in me – enable my journey down a path of personal career contentment and fulfillment.
Now, I am not so bold as to say or profess that I was smarter than my mentor. No, it was my mentor who shared and challenged me with the philosophy to “never be afraid to hire people smarter than yourself.”
The same can be said to all leaders in which their greatest responsibility is to develop their people. One case in point is a quote floating around social media attributed to Sir Richard Branson. The quote says something like, “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” This short thought-provoking statement has garnered many “Likes” and “Comments” because it overwhelmingly resonates in a voice that parallels common sense. There is clearly a significant cross section of the workforce that relates to this quote. A trending reaction, as commented on by readers of these social media posts, leans more toward a negative feeling about who may employ them.
The investment by the people, and also those who employ them, is a two-way component as a financial value proposition and as a commitment of performance. Training people is not an entitlement but a commitment of both parties. Yes, it is a bold value proposition that has true deliverables and responsibilities. I can’t think of a better an employer can make. It is also beneficial for the employee as the training helps them perform at a high level.
This takes us back to the beginning of this column. There are leaders and people who get the vision and invest in it. There is also a cross section of people (employees and leaders) who choose to follow a path that is misguided with a fear that others might become smarter if I train them and then they will leave. The unfortunate reality is that it might be better for the two parties to separate. If they part ways at least both parties are free to develop and contribute in a productive environment they hopefully can create!
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