The Responsability of Leaders to Groom the Next Generation- Troy T. Taylor

We’re talking about the topic of leadership, specifically around paying it forward and the responsibility of leaders to groom the next generation. You’re absolutely correct. I think that’s a fundamental imperative and a responsibility. It’s not an option, it’s a responsibility as a leader to look and see how they can give back and foster the next generation. Personally, I’m more of a giver and almost to a fault. I’m much more comfortable giving than I am receiving, but I’ve learned throughout my life that it’s a balance between the two because there’s the old adage “no man’s an island,” you didn’t get here on your own.

I’ve had a number of individuals that have made significant contributions and created what I call an inflection point in my career. If not for them, I would have been on a very different path.

I think that was part of what I learned: I need to now provide that inflection point in the paths of individuals. If not for their interaction with me — whether it’s for a day, for a week, for a year — that they would not have been able to achieve. I looked across the spectrum of a number of senior executives in Fortune 500 companies and I said, “I remember that guy; he worked for me; he was my pricing manager in marketing.” I hope that in our interactions I imparted upon him or her something that helped them get forward. I think that’s important.

I think a big piece of paying it forward is also helping individuals get exposure. That a lot of times as we grow up, especially as African Americans or folks from tiny little islands like myself — a tiny little island of 35,000 people — you just didn’t know that these things existed. If not for somebody exposing you to something outside of the four corners of your daily box, it would have not happened.

A mentor of mine, John Boyd, saw me at a conference and he said, “I really like what you talked about there. Would you like to volunteer to be in this organization or to do this other extracurricular stuff?” I responded, I have a job, I don’t have time to do that. He grabbed me by the scrub of my neck and pulled me over to the side and said, “Troy, anytime you have an opportunity to get exposed to something that’s outside of your daily four boxes, give it some thought because you may get exposed to interactions with people that you never would otherwise inside of your box.” Look at that as a gift in terms of enhancing your ability to be more influential or more successful.

Certainly for me, above and beyond being on a family foundation — that we founded about 10 years ago focused on the education, economic, and health development of people in the Federation of St. Kitts — that’s the formal side of it. I find myself interacting with folks, connecting folks, as part of my way of paying it forward. Appeasing that giver in me, as opposed to looking to always take something out of the relationship network.

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