[December 10, 2018] There’s an old piece of leadership advice – one that I’m unsure the origin – that goes something like this; true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. Good advice. A mentor of mine told me that only one thing determines whether or not you’re a true leader; the opinion of those folks you’re supposed to be leading.
“Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you’re a leader, and it’s up to you to live up to that.” – Bill Campbell, American business executive
A great job title might be cool and attractive to those who don’t know better, but it doesn’t mean much unless you can earn the respect of those who work for you and of those you work for. While much of what I’ve written here at www.theLeaderMaker.com is about the individual traits of a leader, my point has always been that leadership is about people and people determine who a true leader is.
Ultimately leadership is about getting others to do things they would not ordinarily do and do it because they want to. True leaders understand that leadership is not about putting greatness into people (by teaching them things) but about recognizing that there’s greatness in everyone and your job is to create an environment where it can emerge.
True leadership lies in guiding others to success and that everyone is performing at their best. This is the centerpiece of exceptional performance. There must be a burning desire, call it self-motivation, which makes a workplace great to be a part. Leaders are those who make this possible through the use of their talents and understanding of their followers.
The Boy Scouts got this figured out a long time ago. The senior leader positions are all elected by the boys. As in any democracy, leaders are elected. In other words, those who rise to the top are the most valued by those who vote. While most organizations don’t “elect” their leadership directly, they “re-elect” them every day by their actions.
Only a true leader can create an environment where greatness emerges; where resilience is reinforced, where people can freely make mistakes and learn from them, where people can throw off the shackles of moral cowardice, and where we are judged only on the merits of our abilities and performance.