People have been talking about a “leadership crisis” for years. They have consistently pointed out that there are just not enough leaders, that the leaders who do exist lack the skills they need to address current problems, that there are not enough talented young people coming up through the ranks to lead our important organizations, and more.
There are people who worry about this crisis, but one person is doing something about it. He is Scott Drake, founder and Executive Director of a training and leadership development company called JumpCoach. Scott is planning to train a million great leaders, and to do it in the next three years.
In a recent Training Unleashed podcast, Scott talked with host Evan Hackel about this ambitious goal and how he plans to reach it.
To bring you up to speed on Scott’s plans and progress, here are some edited portions of his talk with Training Unleashed’s host Evan Hackel.
The Current Crisis in Leadership
Evan Hackel: Scott Drake is the founder and executive director at JumpCoach. He is on a mission to train a million new leaders in the next three years. Scott, what is that about? Why does leadership matter?
Scott Drake: My goal is to grow a million leaders in the next three years. That came about because when you talk to executives, they will say one of the biggest problems they see is a lack of leadership in their organizations. And it’s not just top-level leadership, it is front-line leadership
We just haven’t had really effective leadership training. You know, in my journey it took me about 10 years to kind of level up into being a confident, competent leader. That’s a long learning curve!
So the question really is, how do we shortcut that and then, how do we do it on a on a pretty big scale? Because if we can fix leadership problems, we can fix a lot of other problems too. So that’s my goal.
Evan: It’s a very, very ambitious goal. Let’s start with a really basic question. What is a leader?
Scott: I define a leader as someone who can work through others to get things done. There’s a lot of debate and if you go ask a lot of leaders what leadership is, most of them will be scratching their heads. Or they’re going to fall back.
Evan: What do you mean by fall back?
Scott: I came out of computer programing. And if you talk to people with that background, they’re going to think of leadership as being a super version of being a computer programmer. But a leader is someone who can work through others to get things done. It’s different from management, which is more around deciding which tasks you’re going to tackle and how you’re going to do them.
Evan: I think people confuse management with leadership. They’re totally different specialties. And I think a person that doesn’t manage a single person can still be the leader in an organization.
Scott: Yes! A leader can be a nonprofit executive who’s rallying a group of people to help solve a problem. A leader can be the computer programmer who has no authority but has to work through a team to get certain things solved so that a whole project comes together. And it’s not about authority and it’s not about management, it’s not about control, it’s about how do I work through others and be effective in a healthy way to get things done?
Evan: Let’s discuss mindset shift, which I know you have talked about. Because I think it’s an important part of the conversation. What is this shift? Where are people at now regarding leadership and where do they need to shift to?
Scott: Most people are very inwardly focused. They’re focused on, “What am I bringing to the table?” They’re focused on “How do I stand out?” or, “How am I contributing” or, “How can I be valuable?” Right?
A leader has to shift that focus outward and say, “What does this other person want from this work? I know we need to accomplish goals. But what does this person want?”
So it has to become, “What do they want?” not, “What do I want?” You have to be willing to turn that focus off yourself . . . so you’re not in what I call a competency war with your team. You let your team take ownership . . . So that’s a big one, to adopt an outward focus.
Evan: If you had one tip to share with our audience, what would it be?
Scott: An area of leadership can be called moments that matter. Leadership happens when you are working through others, as we have discussed. But when does that happen?
Leadership happens in those moments of interaction between two or more people. And in that interaction, people get what they need, they get clarity, they get direction, they feel good about themselves, they feel good about the relationship with the leader.
But if in those moments people get things they don’t need, like confusion or doubt or if they question their status in your relationship with them, then then you’re really going to struggle as a leader. Leaders are telling people what to do. They’re saying, “Here’s how I would do it.” But often, leaders are giving people things they don’t need or want, so everyone ends up feeling bad about the relationship.
It’s often a simple moment where the boss was trying to be helpful or trying to do something right, but ended up doing something wrong. Leadership is really about mastering those small moments that matter.
Be Sure to Listen to the Complete Conversation Between Evan and Scott on Training Unleashed!
A Free Offer for Members of the Training Unleashed Audience
Scott invites you to take part in JumpCoach’s Community Edition of the Leadership Accelerator Program – at no charge.
This program offers three lessons that will quickly build your leadership skills. We encourage you to take advantage of this offer from Scott and start your in-depth leadership program today.
About Our Guest Scott Drake and JumpCoach, His Company
JumpCoach was founded by technology executive and consultant Scott Drake. Scott’s journey into leadership was long, painful, and he made every mistake in the book. It took him 10 years to thrive as a leader and not feel like an imposter.
When he became a leader of leaders, he saw next-generation leaders making the same mistakes and having the same struggles. Selfishly, he couldn’t spend 10 years watching new leaders wreck his teams while they figured out how to lead, so he began searching for a faster way to teach leadership. That search turned into a five-year research project and the innovations that are now JumpCoach.