A True Demonstration of Leadership

Leaders who have experienced long-term success while navigating the many challenges of the ever-changing business world, share a very similar mantra when speaking about how they empower team members and equip them for success.

With very little variation, revered business leaders such as Jack Welch, Oprah Winfrey, and Rosa Santana speak about their commitment to hiring good people and helping them grow personally and professionally. Each of these successful executives makes reference to the belief they had in themselves and how they shared and imparted that belief in the members of their team.

They understood that investing time and resources in the growth and success of the next generation of leaders, as well as key team members, was a recipe for sustaining the success that their initial vision had helped to create.

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of empowering their lives.”

– Oprah Winfrey

“Before you are a leader success is about growing yourself… when you become a leader, success is about growing others.” – Jack Welch

“Believe in yourself… and share your belief in others”– Rosa Santana

Don’t Mistake Kindness for Weakness

When leaders find themselves in the midst of a transition to a new area of responsibility, the immediate pressure of the role can entice them to embrace the momentary security of remaining merely an authority figure. Leaders understand that there is simply no substitute for the investment of time made in establishing a positive working relationship with the team.

The message of kindness, caring, support, and empowerment for those leads will not occur by serendipity or magic. A leader must intentionally utilize their first 6 to 12 weeks in the role, to demonstrate to the team that the values which are espoused, are those that are lived.

The leader can also demonstrate empathy and kindness as they work with the team to enhance and change systems and protocols with which the team works. Taking time to again listen, to gather suggestions, and act upon these systems, sends the message of genuine support. In these actions, a team will perceive the underlying kindness being shown toward them.

When the new leader overtly prioritizes the growth and professional contributions of the team members, the team most often moves to a place of real trust and loyalty toward the leader. Actions by the leader, which prioritize the team in their work and growth, are foundational to the trust of a team in their leader.

Kindness and empathy for the team one leads is a professional badge of strength. The loyalty of the team and positive culture which is the result, take root when the leader is clear that the empowerment and growth of team members is the leader’s ultimate success.

The False Security of Positional Authority

One can choose to utilize a position of authority, to force a team of people into creating non-sustainable short-term results. In almost every case this model quickly breaks down, and neither the team members nor the leader is well-served moving forward. Seductive short-term success measures that focus on the “cult of the leader”, unsustainable cost-cutting at the expense of necessary capacity, or motivation by implied threat to job security, all turn sour very quickly and are rarely if ever employed by well-informed leaders with a track record of sustained success.

Positional authority and one’s title do qualify one as a leader. Leadership comes when the authority that is granted by the position, is put to use for the benefit of those we lead, in as they work together in the attainment of company goals.

It is extremely important for aspiring leaders to remember, that the trappings of a position and a title are quite fleeting. Successful leadership, in service to others, is something that will prove to be vastly more rewarding.

For more of Tim’s thoughts on effective leadership, check out our other blogs here!