This maybe an old topic. Assuming human being is selfish in nature, why manager should "Train people to be better than you"? The upper management may promote the guy you trained instead of you ?  What is the benefit the manager/leader can get? There seems no real incentive to Train people to be better than YOU.

12string's picture
Training Badge

I'm in the middle of training 2 of my people to be better than I am.  Why would I do this?  

  1. If I get promoted, I'll be able to pick from at least 2 well qualified people to take over.
  2. If I have a personal tragedy, the team doesn't suffer.
  3. I won't really have to worry about losing my job if I continue to develop great people.
  4. If my people get promoted above me, I'll have good relationships with those above me.
  5. It looks good for you to be able to promote those working for you, assuming they do well where they go.

I'm not the smartest guy in my group, but I do want those around me to be better off for having known me.  How does that work?  I pour into them in ways that benefits the organization and them, personally.  

If you continue to build into those that work for you, that will eventually be rewarded.  Honestly, if I do get promoted, I want to know for certain that my team will be in good hands.  If I don't get promoted (this time around) because my direct gets that spot, I'm pretty sure I can count on them to help me on the next go around.

I hope this helps,


mrreliable's picture

It depends on what you mean by "Train people to be better than you."

Do you mean training people to perform the tasks better than you that are necessary in producing your products or services?

Or do you mean training people to be better managers than you?

Say your company is a prestigious high-performance widget manufacturer, producing high-priced widgets in a boutique environment. Let's say you developed a reputation for being the best widget fabricator in the land, and as such, your company asked you to train young starry-eyed wanna-be widget makers.

If you took the approach that you didn't want to teach these newbies all the tips and tricks that you developed on your own over the years, you'd eliminate competition for your position. Great, right? Not if your goal is to continue to achieve greater levels of success. If you didn't train them or sub-trained them, you'd be firmly establishing yourself as stuck at the widget fabrication level since you're the best around. That wouldn't make sense unless you love fabricating widgets. Unless you make all the money you want and you simply didn't want to expand your horizons, you'd be shooting yourself in the foot.

Let say you did achieve success at training these newbies to be just as good at widget fabrication, or even better. First that young hotshot, then another, then another. Don't you understand that's how you work your way up the ladder of a company, or up the ladder of a market?

You're the goose that lays golden eggs for your company. They pay you OK and try to keep you happy in your cozy nest. You don't want to teach those other geese how to lay golden eggs. That would make you less valuable, right?

Wrong. If you owned a company, what would be more valuable to you, a goose that laid golden eggs? Or a goose that could teach other geese to lay golden eggs?

Sorry for the cheesy analogies. The short answer is you'll be hugely more valuable in any industry if you can teach (train, manage) other people to perform the required tasks well than you would be if you tried to protect your position.

That having been said, there's nothing to guarantee you'll be successful in management. If you try it and it doesn't work out, you can always go back to laying golden eggs.

BZOpportunityManagement's picture

First off, I think 12string makes some great points above. I would also look at it as a way to play to the strengths of your team. I know that within my group there are people who are better at certain aspects of our work than others. Why would I not encourage them to continue to improve those and deliver more value to our organization? The other aspect is having high-performing individuals within your organization makes you look better. If your people get promoted to leadership within the organization (whether it be at your level or above) you now have a whole other level of allies who, in part, will feel indebted to you for helping them advance their own careers. Not a bad card to have in your pocket as you look to move up yourself.

mjpeterson's picture

Why hire someone who might be better than you and might get promoted ahead of you?  It’s about results, relationships, and reputation.  If you hire great people, you will get great results.  If they get promoted, you will know more people higher up in the company, who will know you and have a good relationship with you.  Never a bad thing, especially in a downturn.  If you hire and get your people promoted, you will get a reputation for having an eye for talent and an ability to develop that talent.  Again, this is exactly the type of reputation you want to have as a manager.  Not only is this what it takes to be an executive, it also means that working for you is a path to success, meaning that the best people will want to work for you.  Why hire the best…results, relationships and reputation. 

KateM's picture
Licensee Badge

It's not a competition.
I'm glad my teachers and professors weren't afraid to teach me "too much" because some day, I might surpass them in their field of study.
I'm glad that sergeants in the military are patient with the green lieutenants, imparting practical knowledge to them, even though the lieutenant outranks them.
And I hope all my sons someday exceed me in personal and professional success -- I don't expect, "If it was good enough for me, it's good enough for you kids." I want them to have it better than I had/have it.