Some people define leaders by their followers. The best leaders are defined by the leaders they create. They realize that their organizations and their people can’t grow or address all the needs of their group with people that blindly follow. They need thinkers. They need leaders. One of the most demanding “jobs” a leader has is the responsibility to nurture, develop and support future leaders.
Leaders who only seek followers don’t value the skills, talents and expertise of their team members. The implicit message is, “You have skills, but if I wasn’t telling you what to do, you wouldn’t know what to do.” And their team knows that. If you want 100% from your team, they need to feel valued.
Let’s be clear
This doesn’t mean that leaders don’t provide direction and guide their team. It does mean that leaders should provide opportunities for growth. They should model leadership skills by providing clear directions. They clarify expectations with specific objectives and goals—that are measurable and observable. They follow up and check in with team, monitoring progress, providing appropriate feedback and when necessary effective interventions.
Effective and Ineffective Interventions
The ineffective leader uses interventions as opportunity to take over command, to say, “Gotcha, you are doing it wrong.” This stifles potential leaders. The message is do it my way, it is the only way.
The effective leader uses intervention as a teachable moment—an opportunity to foster mutual understanding. They see it as a chance to exchange ideas and participate in some knowledge-sharing that allows for growth on both sides. They listen and are willing to allow their team to tweak the work if it brings the same outcome or better yet improves outcomes. They use it to mold future leaders and teach leadership skills.
Ineffective leaders will say they don’t have the time for all this coddling. It is easier to just tell people what to do (there is immediate satisfaction/gratification-the job is done and I did it!). There is a timeline and a deadline. They feel future leaders will just raise to the top.
Effective leaders see the worth in investing in human capital. They understand the power of relationships. They know that taking the time to nurture talents pays off in big dividends as time progresses. It may take more time upfront, but the impact off their leadership and visions is far more lasting and has great impact.
Five Steps to Developing Leaders
- Teach and model leadership behaviors and skills you want your team to practice. Teaching also means explaining why these skills are important and how and when they can and should be used.
- Create opportunities for your team to use these skills-embed these opportunities into their day
- Check in and see how they are doing—don’t wait until they need help or are floundering. Waiting until they need help is not helping—it is rescuing.
- Checking in can be via a text, email, and most effectively an in a personal visit. Ask questions. Listen to what they have to say, AND THEN provide input and guidance. Follow up with a written note recapping the discussion and next steps. Ask them to verify that it is accurate. These notes can be used as guidance for future visits—“Last time we spoke about….”
- Be consistent. Be honest. Be kind.
Weak leaders surround themselves with only followers. They believe unless they are managing everything, it won’t get done. Strong leaders create more leaders. They develop leadership qualities in each member of their team. They build capacity. They create people that can add to their vision and expand its reach.
Strong leaders allow people to lead—people they have developed and trained. They aren’t afraid to share leadership—they know it makes the group more effective and their leadership more powerful. They know fostering leaders brings additional expertise and perspective and that these bring expansion, growth and loyalty.
What are you doing?