“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – Albert Pike.
When you look at political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela; business leaders like Jack Welch and Steve Jobs; and religious leaders like Jesus, Buddha, Prophet Muhammad, and Gurunanak they excelled as great leaders as they have left their legacies for others during their lifetimes by building leaders around themselves. In fact, true leaders build leaders around themselves during their leadership tenure and lifetime. They are leaders first, and served as ladders for others to excel as great leaders.
Why Everybody Cannot Become a Great Leader?
Leadership is the process of setting the house in order constantly by managing the internal and external environment. Managing the external environment is more challenging than the internal one as the internal environment can be predicted and managed while the external environment cannot be predicted and managed. Most of the people find it easy to handle the internal environment and tough to handle the external environment and give up at the end. That is the reason why only a few succeed as leaders. In this also, there are some leaders who can handle the external environment and manage for time being and survive as leaders for some time. However, when the going gets tough, it is the tough leaders who persevere and keep aligning both the internal and external activities by managing challenges arising out of external environment and accomplish the desired objectives. Such leaders excel as great leaders while the leaders who steer the ship sailing smoothly when there is no storm remain as ordinary leaders. In addition, good leaders become great leaders when they emphasize on people development and groom leaders as their successors in their lifetimes.
Both leaders and leadership is valuable because first is the people; and second is the process. Good leaders have the knack of turning a block of marble into the breathtaking beautiful Pieta with their passion, potential and performance. They can turn shapeless organizations into exceptional ones through their vision, mission and effective execution.
There are several organizational challenges, of which, lack of enough leadership talent ready in the pipeline to face any kind of organizational eventuality, and to keep their leadership pipeline remain unclogged are the major ones. First of all, some companies don’t find time to train their employees with leadership development courses as they are beset with their routine organizational challenges. Secondly, there is a dearth of passionate trainers who can design curriculum and deliver leadership content. And thirdly, there is a lack of strong will from the top management; leadership development programs are only conducted when they encounter challenges.
Six-Step Process to Build Leaders
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him, his own.” – Benjamin Disraeli.
According to Prof. Michael Useem, the Director of Center for Leadership and Change Management at Wharton, the most effective leaders have 3 traits in common: They are: being a self-directed student of leadership and lifelong learner; receiving mentoring and coaching that is fine-grained, off-line, and individual; and getting in the game and having diverse experiences. Hence, the leaders who want to become ladders to develop others as leaders must note these observations.
Individually the leaders must adopt the six-step process to build leaders around themselves which is stated as follows:
Find people with a great attitude. It is the attitude that determines their altitude. When you are surrounded by people with a positive and great attitude it is easy to build leaders around you.
Look at their potential. Find people who possess potential. Most of the people have hidden potential and a few people discover and channel it effectively. If you find people who have discovered their potential and channeled it effectively then you can start grooming them as leaders.
Look at their performance. Find out their performance from time to time, and assess whether they show interest to take risk and grow regularly. Also check whether they are taking responsibility in their duties. If you are persuaded that they take responsibility and risk, they are the leadership material to be groomed.
Review their performance constantly. Some people may not be able to perform certain tasks well, while some people can perform other tasks well. Find out the reasons why they are not able to perform, remove the bottlenecks, align them towards goals, and give them another opportunity. If they improve their performance you can groom them as leaders. At the same time, some people might appear to be good performers initially, and lose their enthusiasm finally. What is expected from potential leadership candidates is consistent performance.
Check for their patience. It takes time to achieve the desired outcomes. Research reveals that impatient people are likely to make more mistakes and regret later. Therefore, check whether they have patience, and are willing to wait for results.
Check for their persistence. It is only persistent people who succeed at the end in this world. Persistent people don’t give up when faced with obstacles. In contrast, they remove their obstacles and keep trying to achieve what they want. When you look at Edison and Colonel Sanders it is obvious that their persistence paid off at the end.
Precisely, select the candidates based on their strong track record within the company, potential for leadership advancement, personal motivation, flexibility, adaptability, tenacity, ethics and etiquette, hard and soft skills, cross-cultural skills and global mindset. Remember to spend 80 percent of your time on the most promising 20 percent of the potential leaders around you.
Stephen R. Covey cautioned, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Hence, as a leader, you must ensure that the ladder is leaning against the right wall. In fact, when you develop leaders you multiply your influence. What goes around comes around. When you give your best, the best comes back to you in tons. When you develop leaders the respect comes to you. Hence, decide yourself whether you want to retain your powers with you and remain isolated forever, or you want to share and distribute your powers to build leaders around you, and pave the way for others with magnanimity. The true leader is the one who makes leaning unnecessary. A true leader is the one who treats the time spent on a potential leader as an investment, not an expense.
Remember, if you grow a leader you grow your organization; if you grow a leader you grow your society. Hence, encourage others to grow as leaders in order to grow yourself as a great leader and to stand taller in stature. Above all, there is no success without a successor.
We couldn’t have come up to this level if our predecessors didn’t develop leaders. As you intend to give something back to your family, give something back to society either through money or knowledge. Money is short-lived while knowledge is eternal. Therefore, share your knowledge, build leaders around yourself, excel as a great leader, and leave a legacy. Remember what William Penn remarked: “I shall pass this way but once. Therefore any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.”
Prof. M.S. Rao
International Leadership Guru
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