What is the greatest measure of a leader? Is it the results they produce for the organisation or shareholders? Is it the reputation or brand recognition that they promote through good work? Is it the culture they build? Whilst all of these, amongst others, are really important I have a different take on the purpose of leadership and the single key measure of success for great leadership: For me your success will ultimately be judged by how well you developed those you lead.
This post will explore the importance of shifting your focus from you, and your success, towards what you are doing for those you lead. As we have said before in this series, leading is an active verb so you need to actually do some leading to be considered a leader. Part of your role - I would argue the most important part - is how you develop those you lead. I’m not interested in you developing others only as an end in itself. I’m keen you take on developing each person in your organisation that you can, because it is the best way of you adding value to your organisation, and the bottom line. Developing others, especially leaders, maximises the latent - and usually untapped - excellence that you currently have in your organisation. Welcome to the D(evelopment)-Suite!
If you have read any of these blog posts you’ll know that the first and foremost place I recommend you focus your attention, is on your own development. That remains critical because if you are not developing yourself you are less likely to be in the best place to help others effectively. Failing to develop yourself also sends contradictory messages to others around the importance of leadership development - you want others to develop but don’t engage in improvement yourself; it's confusing at best and disingenuous and manipulative at worst. You need to balance both your own development as a leader in order to help others grow.
Having reiterated that point sufficiently I hope, I honestly believe that your legacy as a leader should in large part be judged by what you did to develop leadership within teams that you are a part of and also more broadly across the organisation. When you become a member of the C-Suite, your responsibility to develop the leadership culture of your organisation is heightened. And no!!! That is not the job of Human Resources (HR). It’s your job as a senior leader. It is a central part of leading. Stop side-stepping your responsibilities.
Where do you start?
You can start improving the quality of leadership anywhere you choose. For what it’s worth, I would start at the highest point in the organisation that you can access. If you are member of the senior leadership team then I strongly advise you to start there. Hold yourself and other senior leaders accountable for demonstrating great leadership, not only in what they do but how they do it. If you are the CEO, what are you doing to help other senior leaders to develop into your successor? How high have you set the bar for them or are you just expecting everyone else in the company to exhibit strong leadership skills? Not engaging in helping new leadership makes no sense and is also a sure-fire way of ensuring that the business never achieves sustainably great results.
In addition to tackling leadership at your senior executive level, think about how to help develop leadership everyday across the whole organisation. We’ve discussed the importance of your own role modelling of leadership but you can also develop the next round of leaders in lots of ways:
A key obstacle
There’s one small but significant thing you will need to overcome in order to fully embrace developing other leaders: Your own ego. If you are insecure or need all the spotlight of attention to be focused on you, your ability to develop the next round of leaders is going to be severely hampered. Building leadership in others is both a selfless act and a highly practical, bottom-line focused approach to take. You just need to get yourself out of your own way to allow those around you to flourish as a result of your full help and commitment.
At Performance Edge we help develop great leaders. If you want us to help your organisation embed a culture of effective leadership just contact us here - we'd be honoured to help.