Lesson #47 – Where Is Your Replacement?

–Leaders train and replace themselves with others who are better than themselves

Average people are so insecure and afraid they will not have a job that they do not hire competent people beneath them and then do not train them in all the things they know. But leaders are so confident and think multi-generationally that they hire people better than themselves and then spend a significant amount of time training them.

In the days of sailing ships and kings and queens, there was a wise king who had three sons. Instead of the tradition of appointing the oldest as king, he wanted to pick the wisest son as king. He decided to test each one.

He took the oldest on a hunting trip. In the middle of the afternoon he said, “Take an arrow, point it at yonder tree, and tell me what you see.”

As the oldest son was pointing the arrow he realized he was being tested and decided to impress his father. He said, “Father, I see a bird sitting on a limb. What’s more, I see where the limb is connected to the tree. I see beyond this tree to a whole forest of trees. I see where these trees will be cut down and be used to build ships. I see where the ships will travel around the world.”

He went on and on. Meanwhile the bird flew off. The king said he was certainly impressed with all the son could see.

The next day the king took the second son out on a hunting trip. At the point of the test, the second son realized he too was being tested and also decided to impress the king.
As he pointed his arrow he said, “Father, I see a bird on a limb. I see where the limb is connected to the trunk of the tree. I see where the trunk points to the stars in the sky. I see beyond this sky to the galaxy. I see galaxies beyond the galaxies.”

Meanwhile the bird flew off. The king said he was certainly impressed.

The next day he took the youngest son, who could barely pull a bow back. The test was the same. The youngest son said, “Father, I see where the bird’s wing is connected to it’s breast.”

He let the arrow fly . . . and that night they ate.

The third son became king because he accomplished the king’s goal: they were on a hunting trip and wanted food. Job done! And on top of it, the training of a replacement was not a threat to the king. He was working toward it.

Are you training your replacement or have you allowed yourself to get lost in grandiose schemes or the small details of paperwork? Does the idea of a replacement threaten you?

The king was training his replacement long before he needed to be replaced, but average people are threatened by training others and therefore never do. Leaders are confident they will always have more to offer the organization and begin the replacement process today.

Leaders actively look to be replaced . . . and actively train others to do just that. It is part of their job description.

Action Step #1

List the top five problems in your business or career.
Pick one as the top problem. What action can you take today to educate someone in solving that pressing problem?

Action Step #2

Who are you training to replace yourself? How much of your time is spent training them? Discipleship is one of the four jobs of a leader. Make a list of people you can train to do what you do.

An Example:

Training replacements in an organization from your own family is especially difficult. One of the best transitions has been seen in the Marriott Corporation. The founder, Jay Williard Marriott, built it up from the ground floor, then started training several people as his replacement. One of those people was his son.

He did not play favorites. His son earned his own reputation by solving problems in the company. Along the way, Jay spent time coaching his son and his son worked hard to prove himself capable of leading the company. In the end, he did just that. The Marriott Corporation is booming today under his leadership.

“Back 12 years ago, when Dr. Mathews was president here, we had a plan that when I got ready to quit, we’d bring a certain guy in and he’d take over that day and I’d leave. But as time wore on, I realized that wouldn’t have been good at all.”
–Bear Bryant

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