I am in no way shape or form a scientist. I have NEVER in my life autopsied anything (somehow or another, I always managed to avoid doing it). I have no idea how many elements are on the periodic table. But I am pretty good at cloning myself.
One of my co-workers was asking me the other day about being a better leader. I told him that one of the things people often talk about is that a good leader “surrounds himself or herself with great people.” Many people misunderstand that. They think the key then is to find great people and put them around you. In fact, there is a different meaning to this saying. What this saying truly means is that a good leader must train the people around him to become great. They will not immediately be a strong asset to you in your job. Rather, you must teach them how to become great, and cultivate them so they become contributing members of your team.
The best way I could explain what that means is to say that a good leader essentially excels at cloning him or herself. That he or she must train other people to act, think, talk, and essentially become like them. For example, if I’m setting up for an event, and I have a team of 4 crew members with me, I must have a game plan in mind and how I want everything to be done. I must treat each member of the team like they are essentially me, and while I allow them to work within the constraints of their own skill set, I must have the outcome be as if I did it myself. What do I mean by that?
Let’s say the first thing I want done is to set the tables on the floor. I will give the floor plan to the first crew member, let’s say his name is John. I say, “John, I want you to set the tables in the layout exactly as shown. The main things to do are (1) measure out 5′ between each table to allow for enough space for the chairs and the walkway, and (2) make sure the legs are all squared off to this side of the room.” I then allow him to work on his own. When I come back, I will quickly double check his work. I am looking to see if he did the job the way I would have done it if I were him. Maybe he’s a bit sloppy, and put some table spacing at 5′, some at 4′, etc. I can’t accept that, and will need to have him re-do the job, taking extra care to show him why it needs to be done a certain way. If I work with him on this task a few times over the course of a few days or events, eventually (assuming he is a good employee) he will “get it”, and then I will know that if I just say, “John, set the tables like this layout”, he will do it properly. The way I would have done it. Voila, I have just cloned myself. Now I know that I can have John set the guest tables, JUST AS IF I MYSELF WERE DOING IT PERSONALLY.
Therefore, leadership can be many different things, but always remember that at the base level, you are teaching someone how to become you. You are cloning yourself.