Written by Sue Hawkes on June 19, 2017
If you own a business or are on the leadership team of a business, you’re tasked with strategically defining what the future of your business will look like. Who will lead it into the future as you and your leadership team think of future transitions? How will you grow? The answer to these questions begins with developing others and eventually working yourself out of a job.
One of my favorite quotes sums it up: “You’re not a leader until you produce a leader who produces a leader.” Until you accomplish this level of leadership, you will not have freed yourself from your business enough to expand and innovate, move on to your next thing, scale, retire, or sell.
In this two-part series, we’ll explore what it means to develop leaders throughout your entire organization.
Producing a Leader
In order to develop another leader, you must first have a clear definition of what leadership is. To me, leadership is having the character, skill and courage to respond effectively in any situation – good or challenging.
Producing other leaders requires patience, commitment, more patience and letting go. I believe this development process is a combination of mentorship, coaching, management and leadership. You mentor by providing guidance and offering wisdom, sharing the path you chose and guiding your mentee away from predictable mistakes. You manage by teaching them the tactical pieces of the larger role, measuring results, focusing on the long and short term targets and being accountable.
Throughout the process, it’s important to take the time to help the person you’re guiding to identify their strengths and how they differ from your own – you can’t expect them to be just like you. This is where coaching is necessary – you must become a keen observer in order to identify their talents and skills, inquire into their thinking, and nurture their greatness. You must ask questions, provide insight, share experiences and, most of all, listen as you help them expand how they reason through situations. It also means that person must GWC their seat, or you won’t be able to let go.
It is key to envision your mentee as the leader they will be in the future, even if they themselves don’t see it yet. When you’re able to offer certainty and clarity during times of uncertainty, and your followers know you believe in them, they will become more confident and competent.
Learning to Let Go
Possibly the most difficult part for the leader who’s developing other leaders is learning to let go. You must become comfortable with your mentee making mistakes – as well as being better than you: a better leader, manager, and tactician – whatever the role is. In the end, if they aren’t better than you, your work with them isn’t done.
Becoming a leader who produces leaders who produces other leaders is crucial in creating leadership through all levels of your organization and ensuring that your business continues beyond you. Creating a legacy of leadership in your business offers more meaning to your employees, more impact for your clients, and ultimately more personal and collective impact in our world