Peer Power Blog
This blog is about the power of peers in the IT space. It is designed as a place to share things I have learned the past 24+ years running a business as well as meeting the growing demands of business owners we experience leading the Heartland Tech Groups - a peer group network for IT business owners.
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The Core of Leadership
This week I am attending the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in Omaha which is being simulcast to hundreds of locations around the world with over 160,000 people either watching live or via streaming. The content is rich with gems on leading well from the likes of Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni and many other well known leadership guru's.
One of the lessons that has struck me more than any other is the reality of what leadership is really all about. Too many of us believe that leadership is all about getting followers. We have fallen into the trap of thinking that our role as a leader is to create people who will just blindly go where we go and do what we ask them to do.
That is not it my friends. Leadership is not only getting people to follow, but more importantly getting people to lead. It is seeing that others become leaders. In fact, the ultimate responsibility of a leader is to create other leaders. Many don't go down that path because it means things like humility, serving, and most importantly sharing power. Too often a leader wants to hold on and stay in control rather than equip and mentor others to lead.
But here is the reality. There is a huge difference between those who truly lead, and those who collect followers. It comes down to things like delegation and empowerment. Both are important in the leadership stable, but they are very different in their outcome.
Delegation is when we hand off a task to someone else to complete, but the responsibility remains on us to be sure it is done. So we own responsibility and accountability. All we do is pass the actual work.
Empowerment means we transfer the responsibility to another and our task is simply accountability. We let them do the task and have ownership of completion. The monkey moves from our back to theirs. It is the way we truly are able to be freed from carrying the load.
We must not simply delegate tasks. That may get the job done but it only creates followers. We have to empower others and give them authority because that is how you create leaders. Delegation keeps the monkey on our back and while someone else does some of the work – we still own the responsibility.
Those are significant differences, not only in terms of who owns the responsibility, but how the stress and pressure gets spread as well. I hear over and over how owners feel overwhelmed that all the responsibility for everything is on their back. When I ask what they have truly empowered another to take off their plate, I hear dozens of excuses about how they can't, or in reality won't, let go. You can't have it both ways. If you don't want the monkey on your back you have to put it somewhere else.
Some try that approach but quickly grab the monkey back and take away the empowerment they sort of transferred a little earlier. That is sure to cause failure - it sends a message that you don't trust your team and deflates their morale. They won't do it the way you would but that doesn't make it wrong.
It is only through empowering others and allowing them to truly take ownership and responsibility that we can grow our team, build leadership and reduce the weight that we carry. It seems risky to be willing to trust, but with good people, that is the only way you can make any progress!
The number one role of a real leader is first to find, train and prepare the person who will take their place. The second role is to be intentionally investing in many others through teaching and mentoring so those who would be followers transition to become the next leaders. A leader is not measured by how many follow, but by how many lead because of the investment they have made in the lives of others!
What is your KPI for leaders you have created? Not people you have thrown into a role or job and wished well. But the people you intentionally train and mentor over time so they can become great leaders in the days ahead. That is the number we need to focus on as a leader.
The legacy of a leader is not how many followers you have, but how many leaders you empowered and mentored. What does your legacy look like?
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