Replication is Probably Happening
This morning at our weekly men’s gathering we used an article by Michael Hyatt called, Leadership and the Law of Replication, as a spring board for some very challenging discussion. In summary, he argues that those we lead will be like us for better and for worse – even if we don’t recognize that it is happening.
And that’s why it is important to have some self-awareness and other-awareness. We have to know something of our own strengths and weaknesses and we also have to be willing to see them in others and recognize that it is probably a reflection of our leadership. This is especially true in parenting. Why do your children act the way they do? When you observe them, you are probably looking at a living mirror. And as one man pointed out this morning, that’s scary, and even cringe-worthy.
But how does replication take place? One of the most helpful moments of the morning was when we identified three ways replication happens. These observations primarily came from the opening story in the article that is posted above. Replication happens:
- By what comes naturally. What is it that we do that we don’t even know we are doing it because it is so much a part of us that we are like fish in water? What comes natural to us tends to happen over and over again. The question becomes this: “Is natural helpful or hurtful?” This is why self-awareness is so important; you are passing on something to those you influence and/or lead.
- By what is done consistently. What is done over and over again sticks. This is why repetition is a necessary component of teaching.
- By what is distinctly noticeable. Replication happens because something is visibly modeled that does not fit with what is normal. What do we do that sticks out to others? Whatever it is, it probably is being replicated – whether good or bad.
The potential trouble with all three of these means to replication is that they may not produce a desirable and virtuous outcome. So I offer four guardrails to protect us from ignorant and accidental error:
- Begin by asking what you hope to accomplish. What is your goal? What is the result you hope to see? What is success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need not proceed. Imagine deciding to build something without knowing what you want to build. That’s a recipe for frustration.
- Have intentional processes. Plan to take actions that are noticeable and consistent for others to see. You may also have to eliminate some things that come naturally that don’t accomplish the intended end. For instance, if you desire responsive and disciplined children, don’t watch TV while eating potato chips for four hours a day.
- Seek to be self-aware. It’s a frightening thought that you could be passing on to your children or followers something that you are completely blind to. Ask introspective questions about yourself often.
- Embrace community and shared leadership. The shortcoming of number three is that we really like ourselves and are therefore often blind to weaknesses that are obvious to others. We should invite trustworthy and wise people to critique our lives. When was the last time you asked your spouse what you could do better? What about a fellow leader? Also, by placing ourselves in a committed community of people and by sharing leadership, our weaknesses can be minimized because the people who follow us see a diversity of strengths that no one person alone possesses. My sons, for instance, need to see other males who are acting like men so that they don’t conclude: “That’s just the way us Prentice men do it.”
If we hold any kind of influence with people then there will be replication. So consider this question: If people imitated me in everything I did, would I be glad?