Why Launching Great Leaders Matters


Launching great leaders doesn’t just happen automatically. If it did, there would be a lot more great leaders running around everywhere. And if you’ve watched or read the news lately, you know that’s not the case. Launching great leaders requires investment of all of your capitals- spiritual, relational, intellectual, physical and, yes, financial. And it’s also messy work because, as we all know, people are messy. We wish they weren’t, but they are. A colleague of mine used to rant, “Why can’t these people all just do their jobs?” Oh, if leading people was only that simple.

So why invest in leaders?

Governments, non-profits and philanthropists spend TONS of money every year to help the disadvantaged and downtrodden. And that’s necessary, noble and important. (We only argue about whose responsibility it is.) But the biggest bang for the buck comes when we invest in making the leaders in our organizations and communities better. Because when a leader leads better, the benefit to that leader is multiplied exponentially in benefit to everyone they influence.

There are two categories of reasons why investing in leaders is not only smart, but also necessary.

First, return on leadership investment is high. The science is confirmed and the verdict is in. Investing in your leaders increases the value of your organization, not just a little, a lot! Investment in leadership development leads to greater levels of business success.

  • When leadership improves, productivity increases, which increases profitability.
  • Higher morale, motivation and engagement levels increase team performance and productivity.
  • More capable leadership reduces conflict at every level.
  • Reducing turnover by improving morale due to better leadership alone saves businesses a lot more than they spend on leadership development.
  • The increased productivity and improved communication and clarity that come from developing leaders increases likelihood that corporate goals get accomplished on time and on budget.
  • Improved communication and increased clarity save everyone vast amounts of time, also increasing productivity and profitability.
  • Employee engagement of leaders whose company’s have invested in their leadership growth is significantly greater than that of leaders who are not invested in, especially among millennials.

Great leaders know that their own commitment and capacity to coach new leaders increases their own personal value to their organization and gives them a competitive career advantage. When you spend the resources to grow leaders, you gain the trust and loyalty of your employees, resulting in increases in team productivity. And when those who work for you have great leadership skills, you have less workplace drama and distractions, reducing your own stress and level of conflict.

Here’s an important paradigm that leaders should wrestle with: If we set our focus on being successful and having a successful business, we may or may not ever get around to producing great leaders. But if we set our focus on becoming and producing great leaders, making that part of our business strategy, we’re likely to find ourselves more successful at our highest priorities than we ever dreamed.

The second reason for investing our capital in developing leaders is it’s what great leaders do. In fact, the number one job of great leaders is to make more leaders. Successful leaders count followers, but great leaders count leaders.

Our world is desperate for great leaders of character. So is your community, and probably your company. When we make better leaders, we make marriages, families, neighborhoods, and ultimately our country better. So, yes, by all means, lead your organization to success. But the most likely route to get you there is by leading your leaders to greatness. And in the process, you’ll leave a lasting legacy extending far beyond your office walls.

For Discussion:

  1. If leadership development is such a high payoff activity, why don’t more businesses invest resources in it?
  1. Does your organization invest in development of its leaders? If so, what benefits have you experienced? If not, why not?

Upcoming open-enrollment Leadership Excellence Courses and Alaska Leadership Adventures.

Published by Jay

Jay Pullins has been leading and developing leaders in a variety of settings for over 25 years. He has a diverse background as a military officer, an appointed public official, and executive leader of Alaska’s largest church. Jay is the founder and owner of Anchorage-based Catapult Leadership Solutions, providing expertise in developing the character and competency of leaders in all sectors. A 1989 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Jay led U.S. and multi-national teams for the U.S. Air Force, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), NORAD, and the Alaska National Guard. He led combat crews as an Air Battle Manager in Operation DESERT STORM, the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and counter-drug operations in Central and South America. Jay retired as an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 2011. Jay served as Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant Governor, then Special Assistant to the Governor of Alaska. He also served as Executive Pastor of ChangePoint church for five years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the US Air Force Academy, and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the University of Oklahoma. He serves as a consultant and coach to church leaders for 3dMovements, and serves on the Board of Directors for Beyond Borders and the Conflict Resolution Center. Jay and his wife, Sonia, live in Anchorage, Alaska, and have two grown sons.

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