Having someone who can replace you, one or several people, is a source of pride. It is not a threat. It is the result of having done things well. In addition, it is the opportunity you have to continue growing. If we are committed to a culture of growing by growing, the sensible thing to do is to think about making our successors grow, in general, the people on our teams. Even when we do not think about giving up a responsibility, we have to review our agendas, deal the game, deal the cards again so that we can all grow. We can't forget when we were wannabes. We cannot forget those desires to demonstrate our contribution and implicitly our talent.
An organization in which people have no aspirations is a sick organization. An organization where people elbow each other to thrive, too. We need people willing to take responsibility, willing to lead. The only thing we need to make sure of is that they understand that leading is serving, not being served. That there are people running the band wanting to get into the game is never bad.
Our job is to take care of the future giving results in the present. Promote the future of our organizations with today's results and be able to build and realize new opportunities. And if we play a leadership role, our responsibility is to create new leaders. Strengthen our chain of responsibility and inspiration with people who put themselves at the service of others and want to assume the privilege of complexity. Being in decision-making places is learning to enjoy making difficult decisions, learning to decide without necessarily giving up doubts, learning to face dilemmas as well as problems.
What is not acceptable is those people who grow to have power and then are not able to understand that people do not work for them, but that how much higher you are, one works for others. Having responsibility is having the privilege of serving more, of putting resources and influence at the service of something worthwhile, of a purpose that transcends us, of something that is oriented towards an exciting legacy.
We need to forge a culture of what responsibility and leadership mean. Our management schools should train more people for service than for ostentation. Prepare people to assume high responsibilities, avoiding arrogance and self-indulgence. Leaders who will create leaders, who will think about who can replace them and see it as part of their legacy. Leaders who do not give up until they have people around them who act as solvent counterpoints.
The counterpoints are those people who, out of loyalty, put us in our place if one day we lose our humility. Those people who know how to show us the other side of the moon. Exorcists of egocentrism. Common sense militants. Those who express their reservations, their doubts, their intuitions, from loyalty. Good counterpoints ask us questions that we remember days later.
And is this possible? Of course. I learned it from many people. From Begonya Gasch of the Fundació El Llindar, a foundation for young people that offers new opportunities to those who burned them all very early, or to those who never got them. Begonya is a leader who seeks counterpoint, who does not hide behind an extraordinary purpose. She serves with indomitable courage from humility. Her legacy will be immense.
I have learned it from Mateo Valero, one of the great computer architects in the world, who could wield the arrogance of immense knowledge and instead only transfers to us the wisdom of someone who never abandoned simplicity and closeness. I have learned this from many business leaders who feel like true servants to their professional community and their clients. I have found them in family-based SMEs and large corporations. They are all people who never indulged in ostentation, which is the infantile disease of the faint-hearted. There is a triangle that moves mountains: talent, passion, effort. There is a triangle that destroys everything: foolishness, haughtiness, ostentation.
The list of people who do not respond to this profile must be immense. I also know haughty businessmen who use power for improper ambitions. I also know very toxic people who hide in organizations with very noble purposes. I also know arrogant people of knowledge who will never go beyond being stuck-up experts. And that? The important thing is who we choose to inspire us. How we know how to rescue from our trajectory those who shaped us to grow and serve others.
Many will find their first inspiration in their father or mother. What pride if so. I feel lucky to be one of them. Every day I think of them, of what they would do in my place in the face of difficulty. Others will find it in the teachers. I had some teachers who were great teachers, Mr. Rajadell, Father Mascaró, Professor Josep Fontana, my friend Henry Chesbrough. Each one has their own. Others found inspiration in their first bosses, those who gave them opportunities that were beyond their conviction. Others found it in people without any position, but with their own light, with natural wisdom. Others were enlightened by some who asked them questions that multiplied their desire to grow and learn. Others discovered the power of kindness and the enormous tranquility that honesty confers.
People who do not know how to recognize those who made them grow will hardly see it as a pride to have a substitute, they will see it as a threat. Generosity makes us grow, arrogance makes us mediocre. To lead by serving others you don't have to have studied at a big business school, you have to have had the humility to take advantage of those who gave us their generosity to allow us to grow and know how to remember them. The day we feel the pride and not the threat of having a successor, that day, we have climbed a step.