The Flynn Effect shows us that people, on the whole, have been getting smarter. It makes me think of Sir Isaac Newton’s famously attributed quip, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” I think that means Isaac Newton’s grandest accomplishments in science were only possible because other people laid the ground ahead of him.
Leadership works the same. Whatever skills I have are thanks mostly to the shoulders I have stood on, the leaders whose books, friendship, and practical wisdom have been shared with me. I didn’t have to discover the Peter or Pareto principles because other people already did the work. That frees me to build on their work rather than have to rebuild their work.
Therefore, the Flynn Effect works in leadership, too. On the whole, there are better leaders today than there have ever been, and it will always be that way. Robins built on the work of Maxwell who built on the work of Covey who built on the work of Welch who built on the work of Blanchard who built on the work of Carnegie, ad infinitum. Before you enjoy the laurels of any victory, acknowledge the people who pioneered the way before you…
Recognize you are standing on the shoulders of giants while you are enjoying the view.