In and among the vast acres of dross which we all get on the web, just occasionally there is a gem which is worth passing on. A few days ago I received a post on Facebook from my friend Debi Ireland, which went like this:
“True leaders don’t create follower; they create more leaders”
Now that is a great piece of leadership philosophy and it caused me to cogitate on the implications.
Think about it. If a leader only creates followers, then by definition the organisation must be authoritarian. The leader does not have people who can be trusted to use initiative, to think about the job and to move on with the minimum of supervision.
If there are only followers then there can be only one leader which implies the conventional pyramidal structure with the leader at the top sending instructions down to the troops and at all levels in the business.
Further implications are generally a lack of sensible planning because the followers do what they are told and therefore the planning, such as it is, is the sole prerogative of the leader.
This is not to say that good followers are not needed. They most certainly are needed but only in the context of working with the leader and not from purely blind obedience.
I remember when the former captain of the England cricket team, Andrew Strauss, was asked about his captaincy, he said, with great prescience:
“I want eleven captains on my team”
Easy to say and, I would suggest, not too easy to achieve or to manage. It almost says that the best bet is to have a team of prima donnas rather than people who will work together for the greater good.
What he was suggesting was that he wanted eleven individuals who would behave like captains, make quick decisions, be committed, be enthusiastic and have a winning mentality. That builds a team because they all have the same end in sight - success.
The true leader creates more leaders simply because the ethos of the leader is all the above and especially a winning mentality. Winning becomes a habit.
Ask any football team which can play adequately or even poorly and still win. On the other hand losing can just as easily become a habit and one that is difficult to get out of.
The fact is that we need people on the bus who will think, who will act, who will relate to others in the team and who have one end in mind and that is the success of the business.
If that isn’t a list of leadership qualities then I don’t know what is.
Look at your people. How many of them can you honestly say are followers, leaders or even potential leaders? The ones that are will be the ones who take the business forward to success.
A small but important point. If you find that you have many more followers than leaders then you need to look at the way you are running the business.