Brandon Cox: 5 Ways To Avoid Becoming Obsolete

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Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone makes a pretty excellent point: Every time you eat (or have coffee) alone, you’re missing out on one of the most opportune moments for mentoring.

Aside from those rare times when you really just need to work alone for a while, always ask yourself, who could do coffee with me?

Give Resources

A few years ago, a mentor of mine gave me a copy of Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffrey Gitomer. I’ve since given away a few dozen copies of that book. I keep a few in my car for when I’m doing coffee with a young leader.

That book taught me a big lesson about leadership: If you want to succeed, add value to people’s lives. And Gitomer was saying it before it was so cool to say it.

When you come across a great book about leadership, buy an extra copy to give away. And when you use an app that makes you more productive, share about it on social media.

Gather a Group

You can and should grab coffee with individual leaders. But you can also draw together a learning community — young leaders who will sit at the table with you on a regular basis.

They’ll learn from you.

They’ll learn from each other.

And you’ll learn more from them than you expected.

Start off with some “life” talk and then ask a couple of powerful questions to stimulate productive discussion. Close your time with a word of encouragement.

Guide through Coaching

Coaching is a little different from mentoring. With mentoring, your goal is to pour knowledge into someone and help them to apply it. With coaching, your goal is to ask powerful questions about whatever struggle a leader may be  facing, to help them get unstuck and growing again.

Coaching is really a special skill set. I’m a big believer in getting coached and in coaching others. The value of great leadership coaching is hard to estimate.

When I was starting a church, which I’d never done before, I had a lot of questions about what to do next and how not to fail miserably. I found coaches who asked me tough questions and helped me work through my biggest obstacles. It’s worth it!

Give Permission

Think for a second about the first time you were invited into an opportunity by someone in a leadership position. It was probably a little scary. And it was probably life-changing. It was a defining moment.

Don’t hog all the good projects for yourself. Give away some of the best opportunities to allow young leaders to stretch their wings and get their legs under them.

When you give a young leader a project that is just beyond their present capabilities, you stretch them to learn, to grow, to expand their current knowledge and skill set. It’s part of leadership development.

The world needs recurring generations of leaders who will influence their world boldly for good. Invest in them, or become obsolete!


Brandon Cox is a coach for couragetolead.com. He also serves as the church planter and Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, and online editor of Pastors.com. He lives with his wife, Angie and together, they have three children.