Stereotypes showcase effective leaders as commanding, direct, and decisive but that same reputation also paints them as cold and often distant. This classic leadership image is one that we see in movies, in books, and all too often in our workplace. But there’s a problem: great leaders are not domineering ones. 

The reality is that true leaders know they can rely on an incredible team, one that they’ve supported and built the capacity of overtime. When a truly effective leader needs to make a critical decision, they are not distant and cold. They are inclusive, reflective, and evaluative. They share information and listen to their team members. They align long-held values, operational norms, and institutional purpose with their decisions. 

As a leader, when you make decisions like a tyrant, you make yourself and your organization vulnerable to a loss of trust and support and an increase in marginalization. All these negative effects can bring about systemic failures if they go unchecked. 

As a leader, you should always build the following into any decision you make:

  • Time for questioning
  • Time for productive dissent
  • Time for analysis of collective wisdom put forth by the team

Allowing time for these practices ensures a well-rounded decision that’s based on the best interests of your organization. 

The Strength of the Team

When you empower your teams, they become stronger, their support grows, and everyone benefits. As a leader, it’s critical for you to understand that a high-functioning team is a substantial asset. 

True leaders are not task-masters, imposing deadlines and directives without acknowledgment of those “beneath” them. They are sources of positive energy, resources, and launchpads for the growth of others. 

Move beyond the myth of the “all-knowing” leader and commit to recruiting people who have the potential to grow in their capabilities. It may seem counterintuitive — to build others to grow out of roles and move on — but that sort of development is the fertilizer that will grow your organization to its greatest potential. Here are some ways you can build the capacity and strength of your teams. 

  • Create a focused program of professional development. 
  • Develop trust among all team members through support and listening. 
  • Streamline the systems teams use to maximize their efficiency. 

By doing these things, you’ll build the capacity of your team to perform and position yourself to receive their most meaningful contributions. 

The Benefits of Investing in the Team

Growing your team is not a side project to take on when things are running smoothly. It is a core component of your role as a leader. Why? Because team members who have been well supported and nurtured are much more likely to be highly invested in the success of the team and their leader.  

Authentically investing your time and effort into your team will also build exceptional loyalty. When they expect the best from you, you can expect the best from them. Creating a mutually supportive culture with values and norms that are lived allows your team to feel secure in their ability to contribute. There is no greater sense of professional value than knowing they’re part of an organization that sees a future for them and is willing to invest resources toward that end. 

Learn other ways to make a huge impact on your organization and your teams. Download our free resource: The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture…Starting with Yourself