What the Fall of Icarus Teaches Us About Leadership Development


icarusAs many of you know, Bob and I changed our company name to The Daedalus Group last fall.  The choice reflects our Air Force heritage and our vision for the future. In Greek mythology, Daedalus invented wings to escape a labyrinth in which he was imprisoned. Our vision at The Daedalus Group is to help supervisors and managers escape the labyrinth of everyday management and become high-flying leaders.

But there is another well-known twist to the Daedalus legend. Daedalus also crafted a set of wings for his son, Icarus, to escape with him. All went well until Icarus flew too close to the sun, causing the beeswax holding his wings together to melt and Icarus to fall to his death. Bummer of a story and not the prettiest picture for a marketing brochure is it? But as I reflected on the Icarus legend, it occurred to me that something similar happens in companies large and small across the country. As well-performing individual contributors are promoted into their first leadership positions, all too often they are given these leadership positions without adequate training in the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful leaders. Like Icarus, they are expected to fly without the training to do so. It should be no surprise then when things like poor conflict management, lack of employee motivation, lack of communication skills, the inability to set clear goals, or simply the inability to hold a productive meeting, knock them out of the sky.

We love working with experienced leaders and helping them up their game through programs like the Leadership Excellence Course. But we also believe we need to focus on entry-level leaders as well. That’s why this year we will begin offering Academy Leadership’s Leadership Boot Camp in our respective markets. We start with Indianapolis in July. In September and October we will hold Leadership Boot Camps in Albuquerque and Denver as well. If you know of someone who should attend, or fit that bill yourself, please keep us in mind. Don’t forget that we can also tailor programs to fit a company’s specific needs by coming on site.

Imagine the pride Daedalus must have felt as he watched his son soar from the labyrinth. But then imagine the anguish as he saw his son falter and fall. As leaders, it is your responsibility to identify an organization’s new crop of leaders. It should be a matter of pride that you do. But then watching those young supervisors fail because they didn’t have adequate preparation? That has to suck…especially from Icarus’s point of view.


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