How to Grow Leaders
It is phenomenal how having healthy, capable leaders around you can make or break your leadership. So what can you do to ensure you have the best leaders around you?
Here are ten points I have observed and applied to grow leaders around me.
I have found these to be critical in my endeavor to surround myself with great leaders.
- Become a better leader yourself. Great leaders do not want to follow poor ones. To attract good leaders, and keep them with you, constantly seek to improve yourself.
- Get out of their way. This is probably the best way to empower others to lead. Sadly though, the most common mistake I see in leadership is not letting go. We can’t seem to let go and let people feel the full pain of failure and receive the full reward of success. However, if we want to grow the best leaders, we must.
- Be okay with some mistakes. You cannot truly help others grow if you don’t give them room to fail—not from being reckless or lacking good character. But the mistakes that result from pushing themselves outside their comfort zone, trying new things, and stretching their skillset—those mistakes should be celebrated.
- Expect leadership growth. Tell them, “I expect you and I to grow our leadership. Is that something we can agree to work on together?” If leadership is not a topic that the two of you routinely connect on, then you cannot expect growth in their leadership, unless it’s naturally a part of their life journey.
- Coach them. How to coach leaders? Share principles, demonstrate leadership, then let them do it and give them feedback. This can only happen when people are coachable. And being coachable must be a trait that everyone on the leadership team possesses. Including you. Coaching the people around you can only be successful when you have positive relationships with them. If you are always negative and disconnected, no one is going to want feedback from you.
- Always push them forward. It is easy for us as leaders to accept the status quo, to glide through without pushing ourselves and others to grow. As a leader, I watch for the next level to challenge people with new experiences and responsibilities. Now, I have found that if I push people too far out of their comfort zones, if they experience more failure that they can emotionally handle, it can scar them. But if we simply push them to the next step, where they temporarily struggle, but then make it, we are helping them blossom.
- Provide them with leadership materials. This step is related to step one. If you don’t know how to grow yourself as a leader, then you really don’t know first hand how to help others grow. Provide your leaders with resource materials, lectures, conferences, coaches and mentors. If you have the budget for it, cover the cost. Help people to be accountable and let them hold you accountable to learn and practice new leadership principles.
- Have a leadership culture. Amazon.com expects all their staff to be leaders. Leadership principles are part of the ethos of who they are. They support their staff in becoming the best people possible so that others will love to connect with them and support their vision. How do you create such a culture? It starts by writing down your values and bringing to full discussion the leadership philosophy of your organization. (Read more about Amazon’s values.)
- Lead a journey that attracts great leaders to come along. To acquire and retain the very best leaders, you must walk a journey that draws great leaders to come along with you. I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of success stories. I want to be part of a streamlined and expeditious organization. If the dream is unclear, the strategy nonexistent, or the culture toxic, don’t expect to be in position to attract and retain the best leaders.
- Grow proven leaders. I love helping people grow. And over the years I have worked alongside many people who want to become great leaders, but who don’t yet have the experience. I love being a part of their growth and experience. However I have found this to be the hard, slow, and inefficient way to move forward. The best way to maximize your leadership is to select already proven leaders, then aim to grow them. Otherwise, your organization essentially becomes a training center.
Most importantly, remember leadership is not boiled down to a few skills you learn. You don’t become a good leader from attending a seminar or reading a book. Great leadership results from a journey of maturing our character, our emotions, and our thinking above anything else. Think about it. The people you want to go with, the people you want to follow, aren’t they people of the highest integrity, love, maturity, wisdom, patience, and resolve? I will go with a person who excels in these areas any day, and anywhere.
Great leaders are great human beings. So be patient with the process of becoming a better leader and growing the leaders around you.
Actionable Step: Write down the names of the people you want to see become better leaders. Have a talk with them. Formulate a a growth plan with them. Push them forward. Get out of their way. Be there ready to support and protect them.
What I Am Reading Now: Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
For Further Reading: