To prepare yourself to attempt that final climb and give yourself the best chance of making it to the top, you must first embrace the following beliefs.
1. The Highest Goal of Leadership Is to Develop Leaders, Not Gain Followers or Do Work. Getting work done can be important and rewarding. And leading others and having them help you achieve a vision can be wonderful. But developing others is even more wonderful. And it should be your goal as a leader.
Improvement of individual leaders’ lives is the highest goal of leadership development. When you help other people become leaders, you change their lives. You change the way they see the world. You change their capacity. You increase their potential. You change the way they interact with others. If they become good leaders, you help them improve not only their lives but also the lives of everyone they touch. I believe that is how you change the world for the better.
The Pareto principle can be used to increase productivity. That same principle can be used when developing leaders. As a leader, you should focus 80 percent of your attention on developing the best 20 percent of the leaders you have. That focus will bring you the highest return. A handful of leaders will give an organization a far greater return than hundreds of followers.
Focusing your development on the top 20 percent also sets you up for success because the leaders with the most potential, and who give you the highest rate of return on your investment, also have the greatest likelihood of turning around and raising up other leaders.
2. To Develop Leaders, You Must Create a Leadership Culture. Even if you place great emphasis on developing leaders and practice the 80–20 rule, you will not be able to become a great leader unless you also create a leadership culture. If you want to start creating a culture that cultivates great leaders, then do the following:
- Champion Leadership—Define and model good leadership.
- Teach Leadership—Train leaders on a regular, frequent, consistent basis.
- Practice Leadership—Help emerging leaders to plan and execute, fail and succeed.
- Coach Leadership—Review new leaders’ performance and correct their errors.
- Reward Leadership—Reward good leadership with pay, resources, and recognition.
If you make the purpose of your organization to champion, teach, practice, coach, and reward leadership, then people will want to become good leaders. They will strive to help others become good leaders. And the potential of the organization to fulfill its vision will explode.
3. Developing Leaders Is a Life Commitment, Not a Job Commitment. Good leaders develop people. Great leaders consistently develop leaders over a lifetime, and the leaders they raise up also develop leaders. It becomes a lifestyle they practice everywhere and at all times, not a program they implement or a task they occasionally practice. Mentoring is a mantle that they wear willingly, and they strive to add value to others. They value it because they have transitioned from chasing a position of success to pursuing a role of significance.
We live in a very needy world. If you often ask yourself, How do we meet so many needs? then please realize that the greatest needs will never be met until we equip leaders who can work to meet those needs.