Gallup states the following: “One in 10 people possess high talent to manage. Though many people have some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve the kind of excellence that significantly improves a company’s performance. When these 10% are put in manager roles, they naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers and sustain a culture of high productivity.”

I really like a lot of Gallup’s ideas, but I have two general concerns with their basic philosophies:

  • They tend to have a fixed mindset thinking that people are who they are and there isn’t much you can do about it
  • They tend to simplify ideas as though they are black and white instead of sitting with complexity (which is generally more accurate)

Thus, when I read the Gallup quote above, I think that they may be right in that one in ten people currently possess high talent to manage. But, something that is implied in their use of the word “talent” is that talent is innate and not something that can be developed. I do not agree with this sentiment.

I believe that Gallup (and many others) don’t believe that leaders and managers can be effectively developed because they generally overlook and do not focus on the most foundational elements of leadership and management.

Two Commonly Overlooked Foundational Elements of Leadership and Management

I have written extensively on how mindsets are a foundational element of leadership and management that is commonly overlooked. I won’t belabor this point, but will point you to resource to dive more into the topic if you are interested:

But another foundational element of leadership and management is one’s ability to develop healthy and productive relationships.

While I don’t think this is fully overlooked (although it often is), what I do think is overlooked is the fact that our ability to develop healthy and productive relationships is significantly influenced by how we were raised and our parents’ emotional sensitivity to our feelings and needs. And, when it comes to leadership and management development, this rarely, if ever, comes up.

Improving Our Ability to Develop Healthy and Productive Relationships

Because leadership and management development overlooks the fact that our ability to develop healthy and productive relationships is significantly influenced by how we were raised, we “put up with” leaders and managers who are limited by their deep-seated inability to develop the healthy and productive relationships for leadership and management effectiveness.

But, the good news is that we can help leaders and managers overcome any limitations in developing healthy and productive relationships caused by their upbringing and relationships with their parents.

But, doing so requires that leaders and managers become willing to do some deep introspective and emotional work.

A Resource for Doing Deep Emotional Work

There is a tool that has been developed to help people do this work. It is called the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Here are a couple of resources on it:

It contains questions designed to help people explore their upbringing and connect the dots between their upbringing and past relationships with current relationships and practices. Some of the questions include the following:

  • Try to describe your relationship with your parents as a young child if you could start from as far back as you can remember
  • Choose five adjectives or words that reflect your relationship with your mother starting from as far back as you can remember in early childhood (same for father)
  • Which parent did you feel the closest to and why? Why isn’t there this feeling with the other parent?
  • When you were upset as a child, what would you do?
  • Did you ever feel rejected as a young child?
  • Were your parents ever threatening with you in any way?
  • In general, how do you think your overall experiences with your parents have affected your adult personality?
  • Why do you think your parents behaved as they did during your childhood?
  • Have you had any experiences which you should regard as potentially traumatic?
  • Is there any particular thing that you feel you learned above all from your own childhood experiences?

I think we can also add on the following question:

  • How do you think your childhood relationships influence how you currently lead and manage?
  • When are times that you are “set off” in your leadership and management? How might that be connected to your childhood relationships?
  • Do you have a strong desire to look good, be right, be in control, avoid problems, and/or get ahead? How are these desires connected to your upbringing and childhood relationships?

An Invitation

Let me invite you to journal about each of these questions as a way to do some deep introspective and emotional work that will allow you to develop more healthy and positive relationships within your personal and professional lives.