There is one trait that all the top leaders share — regardless of the place they operate or work in. It’s their ability to cultivate and bring out the leadership qualities of those they work with.
Leaders understand the difference between creating followers, and other leaders. They know, sometimes instinctively, that if you want to build a truly great team you aren’t going to get there if there is only one boss and everyone else just waits around for the tasks to come down from the top. If other members of the team aren’t empowered, and given enough training and trusted with enough confidence to make decisions, there are going to be problems and ultimately the team’s ability to grow in a healthy manner is going to be stifled.
I love what Pastor, and Leadership expert, Craig Groeschel has to say about developing other leaders, “If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.”
Let’s explore a few of the reasons why developing other leaders is so vitally important:
1. If you don’t delegate authority, and allow others to grow to the best of their abilities in the organization you will end up losing them to other opportunities that will come their way. Everyone has the right to grow and move up in responsibility according to their own talent and ability. Notice, I didn’t say according to seniority, or anything that isn’t related to a person’s merit. That said, if you have a highly talented person on your team, and you’re doing anything other than helping them to develop and grow into greater opportunity than you’re not just shorting that person, but you are likely holding the betterment of the entire team back too. Help others grow into their own leadership abilities, regardless of if that ultimately means they will leave you for bigger opportunities or not. If you are someone that truly wants to see others become the best they can be then you will never want or need for others that want to join you and fill the positions that need filling in order to accomplish what needs accomplishing.
A great example of this is Coach Nick Saban, who at the time of this writing has won 6 National Championships, five of them as the head coach of the University of Alabama. While he has many leadership qualities, one that I don’t think is given near enough reflection is his ability to develop other leaders. You can look across the landscape of both college and professional football and see how far his legacy of developing the best in others stretches. There are countless people who have worked under him that are now head coaches themselves. Players who have played for him have gone on to have incredible professional careers, and those who didn’t play professionally are doing great things in other professions.
Certainly Coach Saban is at the top of the leadership development game, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it isn’t just as important for you to aspire too as well. Look at any other industry and you will see that it’s also filled with examples of great leaders that came from the leadership tree of those before them.
Look at Jack Welch, former CEO of GE (General Electric), or Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist, a true leader in the American steel industry. Look around you, in your own organization, you don’t have to go far to see where people grew under the leadership of others who took their own role of leaving a legacy of leadership seriously.
Never operate under the fear that someone currently working with you will outgrow you. This short sighted approach will ultimately end up hindering your own growth. Instead, continually be looking for genuine opportunities to celebrate the wins of those you work with. Take seriously your responsibility to develop others into the best leaders they can be.
2. Never, never, ever forget that leadership doesn’t equate to a position or title. A lot of people think they are bestowed leadership when they move into management, or gain some sort of authority in their job. This is simply not true. Leadership has been aptly defined as “influence.” You can gain influence among your peers regardless of position. For this reason, it’s very important that you study, apply, and take your own leadership seriously, everyday, regardless of where you happen to fall in the Org chart at the moment. The best leaders have the respect of their peers and end up seen as having authority regardless of their job title. If you can live your life according to this truth there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG
* If you want more tips on growing your leadership abilities grab a copy of my book, where we delve deeper into this all important topic.