On Leadership and Development

It’s about your people.  That’s it.

What is your real responsibility as a leader in an organisation (work, charity, school, family)?  Is it to be the dictator who controls and directs everything and to whom everyone “submits”?  Or is it to develop and grow the people in the group?

The other week, I came across a great meme from Entrepreneur which, to my way of thinking, summarises it perfectly:

LeaderFar too many so-called leaders that I have seen over the journey have not realised (or not made it obvious by their behaviour that they knew) the most important role they have in leadership is development of the people with whom they work.

Imagine if you will the dictatorial leader at work going home and practicing the same approach on his family (especially kids) that they did at work.  Do you think they would create decent members of society who would be supportive and contributors?  Unlikely.

Why then do numerous leaders adopt an approach at work that is different to the one they do at home with their kids?  Why don’t they approach the workplace in the same way they help their family grow, develop and mature?

It may well be that, when placed into positions of power (as opposed to influence), there is an “expectation” that they need to behave in a particular way.  I’m not sure where this comes from – is it from movies (The Wolf of Wall Street) or TV shows?  Does it come from impressions they have obtained as they have grown up and developed over the years from the likes of teachers, coaches and the like?  Or is it just because they haven’t really developed a concept of what makes a good leader?

The quote above, to my mind, summarises  leadership perfectly.  A great leader is one who can see the potential in people – often when they cannot see it themselves – and work with, encourage, challenge and engage them to push beyond their self-imposed limits to be all that they can be.

There have been some wonderful examples of leaders whom I have met and had the great fortune to work with over the years.  I’ve had some shockers too!  I am also very fortunate to work with a group of people in here and within our client base who exhibit wonderful leadership skills – a focus on seeing the potential in the people with whom they work and then working with them to develop and refine what they can see.  Seeing someone who develops far beyond their initial expectations is truly one of the most rewarding things you can do.

So, what sort of legacy do you want to leave behind as a leader?  Is it one that is autocratic and dictatorial – driven and was quite happy to stand on the throats of people on their way up as they had no intention of coming down?  Or is it a leader who people try to emulate, to model themselves on and who truly makes a difference in the lives of the people they have worked with?


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