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.
Many of us aspire to be leaders, but do we want to be a leader for the right reason? To determine if someone wants to be a leader for the right reason one needs to consider the various mix of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
With the role and title of leader usually comes various perks such as a bigger pay cheque, bonus opportunities, an office with windows, a reserved parking spot, and sometimes even a new car. These are external factors we call motivators. A motivator is something that gets us to do something for a reward. It is the reward or punishment. The carrot or the stick. External motivators are powerful and necessary and usually play to our ego. The make us feel good and important and provide us with power. The challenge with external motivators is that they will only take a person so far. We all have our limit and will say “I will not do that regardless of how much you pay me, or “I will not do that regardless of how much you punish me”.
Internal factors, however, are much more powerful and long lasting. These internal factors are intrinsic in nature, meaning they come from within. One does something not because of punishment of reward, but because they want to. Someone who is intrinsically motivated will walk through fire to accomplish what they set out to do. They are far more willing to endure hardship and personal sacrifice.
So when you think about being a leader are you doing it for the motivating or inspiring factors. Of course there is a combination of both, but you need to make sure you understand the difference and have a mix of both.
Those leaders that are only leaders for motivational reasons are very self-serving in nature. They are not there for the good of the company, customer or team member, but for the betterment of their own personal world. They will often do whatever is necessary to get ahead including placing the blame for failure on others and taking credit for work that others have done. They will also only be willing to work to a certain level of performance.
Those leaders who are leaders for intrinsic factors truly want to serve their customer and their team members. Their number one priority is the completion of the task and the service of their customer. The do it because they want to, not because they have to.
Sometimes the leader who is intrinsically focused will take on the role of the servant leader. Their sole focus is to serve their team and their customer. As a servant there are willing to sacrifice themselves for the team and to do whatever is required for everyone involved to be successful.
To decide why you are a leader requires some sole searching. You need to look at why you are doing something and if all the external motivators were removed (pay, ego enhancement, perks) would you still do it? For most of us, unless you are running your own entrepreneurial business or working in the not-for-profit sector, a certain element of external motivators is required, but if that is the only reason you do it you might be feeling unfulfilled in life. There must be some intrinsic factors involved for you to really do your best work. You need to believe in what you are doing and see the value to yourself, your customers, your community and to the world in some cases.
So the next time you are considering a leadership opportunity you need to think about why you might do it. Are you taking the role for the title of leader and the associated perks or because you truly want to be a leader of people.
In the Summit Team Building Leadership Development workshop we can help you identify your leadership drivers and values and your leadership style so you can be the best leader possible.