Have You Actually Been Apprenticed as a Leader?

What comes to mind when you think of apprenticeship? We like to think about the image of a cobbler. The process of becoming a true cobbler is quite involved. Nushoe repair describes it this way:

“To become a cobbler you will need to undergo training for about five good years. During the training, you will have to learn how to use all the equipment that this profession involves. In most cases, cobblers only train through apprenticeship which majorly involves learning at the job.”


Think about this image of the cobbler as it relates to leadership development. Stop and answer these two questions:

  1. Who has intentionally apprenticed you as a leader?
  2. Who are you intentionally apprenticing?

If you are like most leaders we interact with, these are sobering and sometime painful questions. In my leadership journey, growing up I had no concept of what a leader or apprenticeship were. I went through Marine Corps boot camp, and while I learned a ton about leadership and essential skills of being a leader, I still did not think of myself as a leader. In fact, I received the Navy & Marine Corps achievement medal for outstanding service and leadership and still had not thought of myself as a leader. Why? My leadership was accidental, not intentional.

Apprenticeship is the intentional transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise into the life of another.

Here’s what we know: Apprenticeship is rare. Very few of us have actually had someone intentionally transfer their leadership knowledge, skills and expertise into our lives.

This concept is what gets us up in the morning. Our expertise is in intentional apprenticeship. And it works.

“Why?” you ask. Take a look at the image below. Apprenticeship works because it leads to transformation. Dramatic, radical, real change.

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What is your next step? Do you need to find someone who is an intentional leader to apprentice you? Are you an intentional leader who needs to impart your knowledge, skills and expertise into the lives of those on your team?