And here we are at part 3 of this quick 4 part series on resolutions that every leader should make as they start the new year. On Monday, I dealt with the importance of being a better leader. On Wednesday I discussed being a better follower.
Now it is time to consider the next step in the 4 part process.
Resolve This Year To Build Another Leader
This is the oft-forgotten role of truly great leaders. These leaders are concerned about the legacy that they will leave behind. It has been said that one of the key responsibilities of a leader is to build more leaders rather than just building followers. Or, as someone else has put it — Good leaders build strong followers. Great leaders build more leaders.
Ralph Nader has been credited with saying it this way — “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” I am not now, nor have I ever been a big fan of Ralph Nader. However, if he is correct, and I believe he is, the question that it leaves for you and I is this. How do we go about the task of producing and then developing other leaders? Because producing new young leaders without having the plan to develop them is ludicrous and damaging to these young leaders.
So, resolve this year to pour yourself into the life of some young leader and help build their leadership skills. It is hard to release the reigns of leadership and allow others to lead. But as leaders, we must always be providing opportunities for new and younger leaders to gain valuable experience.
So, how do we build other leaders?
Building other leaders is a mindset more than a task. It involves changing the way that we think about developing the leaders around us. These are the folks that I call Legacy Leaders.
Legacy Leaders Invest in Other Leaders — Legacy leaders don’t view this as “spending” time developing a young leader. Instead, they view it as an “investment.” Do you see the different mindset there? One views it as a valuable asset in which to invest while the other views it as a cost to be paid. So, invest liberally in a few young leaders that are part of your span and scope of influence. Offer yourself to the as a mentor or as a sounding board. Many young leaders are unsure of their place or their value. You can demonstrate to them that they have a place in your world and that they have real value if you proactively reach out to them and invest your time in their developmental process. The dividend of gratitude and the increased value to your organization will be great.
Legacy Leaders Set Limits — The poet Robert Frost wrote a poem entitled, Mending Wall in which he twice used the phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors”. The phrase is actually used by the neighbor of the one who narrates the poem. The narrator is a farmer and he contacts the farmer next door to rebuild the stone wall that separates their two farms. And as they walk and mend the wall the narrator asks why there is even a need for the wall. But his neighbor wisely replies each time that in fact good fences make good neighbors because it provides a good limit or boundary within each can move and work and not encroach upon the others space.
This has been a long explanation for my point. But my hope is that it has become obvious. Young developing leaders need good limits and boundaries within which to operate. They need to have a clear understanding of what is their “space” or theater of operations. They need to know that they will have sufficient freedom to conduct and command within those boundaries. Without boundaries, the young leader will not have any sense of where they can operate without fear of overstepping. And with too many boundaries they will not have the ability move about and explore their leadership scope.
Legacy Leaders Increase Challenges — New leaders need to be stretched if they are to develop. And legacy leaders are there to provide ever increasing opportunities and challenges. One of the ways to foster growth is through the challenge of tight schedules and tight budgets. Nearly anyone can perform well with unlimited time or unlimited budgets. But the real world doesn’t operate like that. Provide new leaders with the challenge of accomplishing something without all the resources that they need. This will force them to be creative and experiment with new ways of achieving the goal or objective.
Don’t be overly harsh with the constraints. And don’t set the new leader up for failure. Rather, stay close enough to monitor their progress and be willing to step in if requested or if you see the frustration level rising to the point of becoming detrimental to their development or detrimental to the overall team’s psyche.
Let me encourage you to be a legacy leader. Be the kind of leader that thinks about more than just the here and the now. And at the end of our term as a leader, or at the end of our lives, the true measure of a leader is not what they do when they are actively leading. But rather it is in what happens after they are gone. That my friend is a daunting and haunting thought.
I hope you are enjoying these extra bits of goodness in the Bonus Section. I am trying to keep these articles and post short, but there is more good material out there. So, if you have some extra time to read, here are a few more articles that may help you to develop other leaders around you.
How To Build A Leader by Steve Keating
Develop Leaders – Not Followers by Dr. Mohammed Benayoune