Great Leaders Grow More Leaders

The role of leadership implies a vast number of responsibilities and expectations. One of the areas that differentiate a manager from that of a person in a leadership position is the implied duty that a leader has to support and nurture the next generation of leaders.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” — Ralph Nader

Embracing the challenges and rewards of growing future leaders also implies that you, as a leader, are also learning and growing.

By investing time with aspiring leaders in formative conversations, visioning, examining case studies, and debriefing leadership actions, you provide insight into the many facets of responsibility that leaders must undertake. While some managers do not see the growth and well being of the next generation of leaders as an expenditure of their time that aligns with the bottom line, wise leaders are aware this investment of time pays great future dividends.

Having a company culture that places the growth of future leaders as a priority reinforces the value that an organization places on its current team members.

Making an Idea Our Idea

An expectation that organizations have of leaders, is that they are constantly analyzing the culture, systems, and capacity of their team and area of oversight at all times.

To this end, the leader is formulating ideas for initiatives and/or projects that will bring the work of their team into alignment with the long-term goals of the company. When a leader has a great idea, there is also the challenge of bringing the team and others in the company on board. Making an idea “our idea” means communicating not only the importance of the idea but also the inherent value to those who will be undertaking the tasks that will bring it to completion.

An inhibitor to bringing others on board with a new idea can actually be the perception that the credit and recognition will be centered on the manager and not shared with the team members. Recognizing the contributions of team members can make a very real difference in the willingness of the team to embrace the new idea. Yet, if you are looking for a way to move your team to the next level of engagement, there is a strategy that can be employed that will serve to heighten engagement as well as provide a way for you to help the aspiring leader to grow.

Allowing an “Up and Coming” Leader to Run with a Great Idea

A can’t-miss idea in the hands of an experienced leader will likely result in a very positive outcome. A great idea, gifted to an aspiring leader, who is then guided and supported by the experienced leader will create value beyond just the success of the project.

Responsibility for a can’t-miss idea is what many aspiring leaders need to experience how success feels. The opportunity to practice leadership skills, to see a project through from vision to completion, and to work closely with a leader who can help anticipate potential downfalls and enhance areas for success, can be a career-maker.

In the past, our society has long held the belief that “trial by fire”, or seeing if one drowns while learning to swim, has been a satisfactory method for evaluating leadership potential. Over time, what has been learned through research at the top business schools in the world is that mentorship and guidance do a great deal more to unleash the potential in a future leader than an arbitrary evaluation of a random effort.

Leadership potential that has been lost or overlooked, particularly with groups not associated in the past with leadership positions (women, people of color, etc.) has a much better chance of being grown if the approach taken is one of support.

If a primary commitment of the organization is the growth of new leaders, encouraging them with the trust and belief that comes with the responsibility for bringing a great idea to fruition is a path to consider.

The most successful organizations don’t wait and hope that born leaders will walk in the front door one day. They focus on nurturing great leaders from within. Start doing the same by downloading our FREE guide, From Underperforming to Rockstar: A CEO’s Roadmap to Investing in Their Leaders.