Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
There are two very lucid and yet simple points articulated by the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch (quoted and pictured above). The first is the purpose of learning; the second is who can benefit from what we have learned.
Education, training, life experience, and learning from our mentors - all have a similar purpose: to train us for our role in society (and life itself). The process is, on the one hand, life-long; on the other hand it is the preparation phase in our life. During this phase some of what we learn is exciting and encouraging; other aspects are boring and seemingly do not have any immediate relevance to our life-situation. Regardless, all of what we learn can be redeemed as we step into the leadership phase of life.
And that is generally what happens. At some point we switch gears and become a person who leverages what we have learned to the benefit of others. As Jack Welch points out, at this point we are leaders. He also simply clarifies that it is the purpose of effective leaders that we lead not for our own sake, but rather for the sake of others.
Both phases illustrate the core motivation of effective leaders. In the early phase, I am learning and growing; in the next phase I am leading for the sake of others. Neither are self-centered, since even in the growing phase we are preparing ourselves for the sake of those we will eventually serve.
What phase are you in today? If growing, what are you learning? If leading, who are you serving? How does Jack Welch’s quote, above, speak to the motivation of those in leadership?