“You can decide.  Should we have Chips Ahoy or Oreos?” An appropriate question for a child after dinner, but not an adult co-leader on a wilderness trip who has been asking for more leadership opportunities.

This was an actual response many years ago on a trip my wife led with a more senior staff member.  He never did share any of the actual leadership responsibilities with her, and the entire group–senior leader included–were cheated of opportunities for growth and learning this trip offered.

Develop New Leaders

Those of us in leadership positions have a responsibility to develop those behind us and offer them meaningful leadership opportunities.  Deciding what decorations to buy for an office party may be something that needs to be done, but is it really a “great opportunity” for a new colleague to prove himself?

Involve a less experienced colleague in an challenging project, delegate an an important task, ask him/her to look for a solution on a vexing problem.  Now here is the tricky part:  listen, support and accept the work.  It may not be done exactly how you would have done it.  It may not meet your “exacting” standards.  It may require more work than just doing it yourself. But you, your colleague and your team will be stronger in the long run.  This doesn’t mean accept sub-par work or settle for an unacceptable outcome, but often, we use those fears as excuses not to entrust someone with more leadership.

Look back through your life and development as a leader.  Almost certainly, those who stand out in your memory are those who offered you meaningful leadership opportunities.  You know they took a risk and gave you a chance to tackle something, maybe something just above your actual skill level, and then listened to you, supported you when you needed it, and accepted the work you did.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone thought of you like that some day?