Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Emergence

Most parents and guardians of children dread the day when they will need to have "that" talk.  Of course, I am referring to the one where a child must be told how babies are made and/or from whence they come.  This problem has been around in Western society since at least the Victorian era where people just didn't talk about such things.  Because the truth is so uncomfortable to relate to a child or just plain embarrassing, all kinds of different explanations have emerged.  Here are just a couple of them:

  1. When the time is right, often during a full moon, babies are placed under cabbage leaves by unknown individuals.  Parents then go out in the morning to find their new bundle of joy all wrapped up and ready to go.
  2. Perhaps the most popular "explanation" is this one.  At a proscribed time, babies are brought through the air by storks (!) to parents, all wrapped in swaddling clothes.  (I think this version is where we get the term "Bundle of Joy".
The point is that until they are told, children don't really have any concept of the origin of babies.

When it comes to the creation of managers, adults are often as clueless as children.  I have occasionally overheard conversations where one person asks another something like, "How did THAT person become a manager?" or "What did s/he do to get that management position?"

These questions are good ones because the truth is that most people do not know how their managers got into positions of power in the first place.  (This assumes we are relating to Western corporate culture and not the family or patronage-friendly businesses in other areas of the world.)  Generally when a person enters into a work environment, the management hierarchy is filled with individuals and that's just the way it is.  Yet, in every case where a person is holding down a leadership spot something significant has happened to put them there.  I have a one-word term for that event.

Emergence

Through my empirical observations, leaders are born when they "awaken" to the need to lead, take charge, and be responsible.  In other words, people become leaders when they emerge from the rote of day-to-day activities and ask for something more. I call this "Emergence" because the person, by demonstrating the desire and will to lead, starts down a path that will make them responsible for others.

Just because someone emerges does not always mean that the individual will be a good, kind, or inspirational leader.  No, there are probably more poor managers than good ones if I believe all the books and magazines that I read.  But the fact that they do emerge essentially answers the question as to where managers originate.  They originate on the day that they are "born" - the day that they ask for something more beyond just themselves and their own needs.

If you are a leader in charge of others, you *must* be aware that it is your duty to always watch out for emergence from within your team(s).  Emergence doesn't always happen with great fanfare or trumpets blowing.  Sometimes it happens with a whisper.  But no matter how it happens, it is extremely important that you catch it and begin a mentoring dialog and relationship with that person.  That is, if you want to be successful as a leader and have a great talent pipeline.  If you don't, odds are that you will have dysfunction within your ranks.  Just because someone emerges does not mean that they know what they've become.  It is your job to help them grow. 

They need you and your support just like a seed needs fertile soil, rain, and the sun to reach its potential.  Do yourself and the world a service and be a good steward of your garden.

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