Jul 2014 at 14:02

It’s Your Job to Create More Leaders, Not More Followers!

I know I am renowned for banging on about, ‘creating more leaders, not more followers!’ in your team and, the importance of coaching people to be able to take on more responsibility (without losing accountability). All too often I come across leaders who maintain their position in the company as, ‘the font of all knowledge’ unwilling to share their skills and competence, less they should become less significant in the eyes of their staff or their boss.

Only last year I took a call from a woman who had worked her way up through a range of roles in one company over a 22 year period. Finally, her boss came into the office one morning and gave her the role of MD, before turning on his heel and walking out to the car park, getting in his Jaguar and driving off into the wild blue yonder.

She was both excited and petrified. She knew nothing of the company’s financials, they had no system for recording the details of key suppliers and she had no idea of the margins they charged on the products they sold. All such information was kept in the filing cabinet otherwise known as her boss’s head.

When I asked whether she’d seen this day coming she proclaimed,

“No, we didn’t have a clue.”

When I asked how old her boss was she said,

“Seventy six, and he’s not been the same since he had a heart attack last year. I guess his wife thought, ‘enough is enough’ and he decided to retire.”

She’s lucky she didn’t walk into the office one morning to find him pushing up daisies.

Steve Jobs attributed much of Apple’s success to creating the conditions for every member of staff to become a great coach and to be able to deliver (and receive) quality feedback. The focus under his reign was on continuous development and learning – what are we doing to help the guy next to you to be better than you?

Harvard Business Review have written this week on how their research shows that most managers consider themselves to be coaches rather than leaders. I wonder how honest the respondees to their survey have been?

My questions to you are:

  • Are you truly committed to growing more leaders in the business?
  • Do you live in an ‘open source culture’ where ideas are shared, encouraged and challenged for the good of the individual, the team and the business or are you a gatekeeper, hanging on to the best ideas, only sharing them with, ‘those who need to know?’
  • Do you actively encourage your team to be better, stronger, faster than you?
  • How would your company fair if you walked in and announced to your team that you were leaving it to them to grow the business for the next 12 months (not just survive but actually increase revenue and build a better business in your absence?)
  • When was the last time you invited feedback on your leadership and communication style?

Food for thought? What can you do, this week, to really build a high performing team that can take greater responsibility and grow through your words and deeds?

Have a great week and enjoy the sunshine.

Lily Newman


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