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Developing Leaders vs Gathering Followers

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Developing Leaders vs. Gathering Followers

Your ultimate long‐term success as a leader will be determined by your ability to develop a team of leaders…those who know how to lead to the future and not just manage the present. In order to fulfill the vision, you must be able to guide the way the team works together in order to deliver the desired results.

Team success is the ability of their leader to rally all the team members to commit to the vision and common goals ‐ not because they have to, but because they want to.

Forming a team of mentally, emotionally, and spiritually mature leaders is worth your time and effort. The greater challenge is getting them to lay aside personal ambition and ideas for the sake of becoming a team centered only on the mission and vision. A group of followers working on the same effort is far different from a team of strategic‐thinking leaders focused on the same goals with a clear understanding and commitment to the same outcome‐based results.

Independent thinking team members normally focus on their own strengths, abilities and promote their own ideas of what success should look like. Most of the time, this leads to everyone pulling in different directions and momentum is lost, if it was ever there to begin with. As a leader, it is your primary task to inspire individual team members to check their ego at the door, set aside personal agendas and cultivate a passion for teamwork, team solutions and team wins. Look at yourself first.

Your top priority as a team leader, leader of leaders and most of all as a senior leader, is to have your team understand, focus and commit to the outcome‐based goals of the mission, vision, values and strategy. Without clarity about these four key elements, buy‐in by the team and commitment to work together as a team will never happen in any significant with developing leaders out of the followers you have gathered happens best when working together as a team is the only option. Team dynamics cannot develop in solo situations. Lone rangers, overbearing personalities and divisive behaviors have to be overcome and not tolerated for very long. As the leader, you must have the emotional strength and maturity to help clarify non‐productive behaviors in both strong‐willed and weak‐minded individuals. Somehow you must be able to persuade them to see the big picture; how every individual effort is not only valuable, but also vital to the team’s success.

Five principles critical for developing a team of leaders:

Provide adequate and accurate information; clarity about desired results and the rationale used to shape your views.

Anticipate and resolve conflicts quickly. As the leader, it’s your job to make sure overly competitive or domineering team members don’t exploit another’s vulnerability when discussing either positive or negative issues as they relate to the team’s on‐going efforts or final results.

Recruit, teach, train and deploy the right team members. Be slow to appoint so you won’t have to disappoint. No matter how talented they are, if their ego, personality and effort cannot complement the team, you have to decide what’s more important to you —individual contribution or the team’s success.

Provide prompt and adequate feedback. Waiting until the annual performance review means many significant coaching opportunities may be lost. Feedback for both individuals and the team as a whole is most effective in written form. And, I don’t mean the small and big wins on a regular basis.

Recognize and deal with promptly those that I refer to as “Vision Drainers.” The single biggest reason for teams not performing effectively and winning often is the emotional maturity of the leader. It often lies in the discomfort and sometimes the fear of giving honest feedback necessary to develop a group of followers into a team of leaders who win on a regular basis.

Remember, leaders who turn followers into leaders on a consistent basis are leaders who know what they are doing and why. Many times, there are those who give promise of being great leaders because of superficial personality and character traits. Intelligence, confidence and the ability to communicate are important. However, having all these does not mean they have the emotional maturity and ability to make good judgments, which are invaluable in turning followers into leaders.

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