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I see leaders across this country that have benefited from maximizing their own leadership skills, but are failing to pass those skills along to their staff and other emerging leaders. I hear the excuses. "I can't find the time," or "I'm still evaluating their potential."

If we could just get honest with ourselves, we might see that our reluctance is often based in fear. We never vocalize it, but internally, we are afraid that if we invest in developing other leaders, bad things might happen. We won't admit our fear that if we mentor someone:

  • I won't be indispensable any more.
  • My authority might be challenged some day.
  • Others might prefer the emerging leader over me.
  • Their influence could surpass my own.
  • They might receive credit due to me.

Simply writing these fears down helps us see they are all rooted in our own insecurity. As long as we allow these petty anxieties to shackle us, we'll never achieve the greatest satisfaction of a leader - the legacy of multiple leaders achieving far more than we ever dreamed of accomplishing ourselves. Here are some things to consider that can help you crush those insecurities.

Remember that someone invested in you.
The recent movie "Pay it Forward" told the story of a boy who believed he could change the world if he could perform three big acts of kindness for others; they would, in turn, perform three big acts of kindness for others. While the story came from Hollywood, the principle comes from life. All of us who lead are the beneficiaries of someone else's investment in us. If you don't "pay it forward," the greatest loss will be yours.

Decide to trust and be willing to be burned.
If you mentor enough emerging leaders, you will probably be disappointed, hurt, even betrayed by some along the way. Do it anyway. It's a small price to pay in exchange for the privilege of watching others you've invested in overcome challenges and literally change the world.

Deal with past disappointments in your life.
In the last edition of "Leadership Wired," I talked about eliminating emotional clutter from your life. This is a good example of what I mean. Until you forgive those who have disappointed you and move on from your past, you'll be ineffective at shaping the future through others.

Become more convinced of the future.
Some leaders live as though they expect to be around forever. My heart attack a few years ago reminded me that we're all just a heartbeat away from vacating our office. Who is coming along ready to take your place? If you won't mentor someone to take your organization into the future, you can bet that your adversaries will.

Be willing to experience something greater.
Leading people is gratifying. But watching the leaders that you have developed lead, is even more gratifying. Face your insecurities and your irrational fears today, so that tomorrow you can begin planting for a harvest that will yield for generations to come.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free
monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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