Leadership is often seen as a title bestowed on a person who has risen above the norm. These people are looked up to and guide their ‘team’ in good times and in bad. The challenge is that if we only look to people with the title of leader than we are missing out on the value that can be accessed from the vast majority of people who are not leaders in title.
Leaders are critical in helping others become high performance. They are our coaches and our mentors. They motivate and inspire us and hold us accountable. They are very important people and it is elitist to think that only people with the title of leader can help us in these ways.
If we look beyond leadership as a title and look at it more as a way of being it becomes much more universally attainable and empowering.
Generally speaking, leaders are proactive, analytical, and decisive. Followers (everyone who is not a leader) wait to be told what to do by their leader. The challenge in this is that the leader cannot be in all places all the time and many opportunities are lost and production (whatever this may be) is slowed.
Ideally you want to build a team of leaders. Yes only one person has the official title of leader, but if everyone in the teams sees themselves as a leader then there is far more power available for any task. Therefore, leadership is not just a title, but it is a way of being. It is an attitude. It is not bestowed upon anyone, but something you choose to be.
To be a leader you need to look at everything a little different. You look at it as though it is your responsibility and you can make choices and take actions without waiting to be told what to do. You are aware of the interconnectedness of all the moving parts and not just how you influence this, but how the others involved do as well. You consult with others and your titled leader when required, but you are proactive and make things happen.
So the questions is, as a leader, how do you create a team of leaders? First of all you need to set this as your vision and one of your values must be empowerment. You need to communicate this vision to your team so they know this is something you are expecting of them. After all, nobody can live up to your expectations if they do not know what they are.
This is all and good, but unless you empower people to be leaders they will not be. The challenge here is that you cannot give empowerment to anyone. Empowerment can only be taken and it will only be taken when people feel the environment is safe to do so.
What this means is that if you want someone to feel empowered, you need to be comfortable and supportive with the actions they take and the decisions they make. If what they do is not what they should have done you use this as a coaching opportunity and help them for the future. The first time you explode at someone for the action they took or decision they made is the last time they will feel truly empowered.
So to move into the area of building a team of leaders you need to start with some self reflection. Is this what you honestly want or are you just doing it because you were told to. If you are not doing it for the right reasons, your team will see through it instantly and there will be no benefit.
If, after reflection, this is what you really do want, make a plan to build it and put it into action. You will reap huge benefits in the future.
At Summit we build these philosophies into many of our Team Development training programs.