The Single Most Important Job of Great Leaders

Leaders, by definition, have followers. It’s natural to presume therefore, that a main indicator of leadership success, maybe the most important, is number of followers. We see that dynamic played out with celebrity CEOs, social media influencers, and thought leaders too; their worth and impact is based on how many people follow them. That’s a mistake because it conflates a byproduct of great leadership – lots of followers – with an objective of great leadership. 

Leaders who view their business not from the perspective of their own ego, but from the point of view of their company’s greater purpose, know that their single most important job is not to grow followers, but to create leaders. As GE’s controversial former CEO Jack Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” 

When you lead this way, you are rooted in the uplifting and connecting energy of “amare” or love. You have the confidence and humility to know it’s not just about you. Bottom line, great leaders create more great leaders. That’s job one. 

Consider these questions:

  • What do you believe is your most important job as a leader?

  • Are you willing to make it a priority to develop other leaders?

  • What might enable or get in the way of acting on that priority?

5 Essential Amare Steps for Developing Great Leaders

  1. Honestly assess your leadership beliefs. Ask yourself what might happen if you invest in growing other leaders. Note down any assumptions, fears, threats, and stories that might hold you back. Note too what propels you forward on this path.

  2. Remember who helped grow you. Someone, maybe many people, supported your development as a leader. Make a list of what they offered that did and did not help you grow. By acknowledging these influences, you avoid unconsciously repeating them. 

  3. Make leadership development a key metric. Knowing we pay more attention to what is measured, develop simple and meaningful metrics of leadership development – both process and results. Bake these into every leader’s responsibilities and accountabilities. 

  4. Get input all the way around. Go broad and ask everyone in your company what they would like in terms of leadership development and how their leadership growth would also benefit the company. Ask former and prospective employees too. 

  5. Build leadership development into your brand. Brainstorm with your team how leadership development is or can be a distinguishing aspect of who you are as a company. If growing leaders authentically fits your brand identity, integrate it into your recruitment, retention, training, and overall “people” strategy.

Know that the people you help develop into powerful leaders will  amplify your contributions to your company and industry, and may become the greatest legacy of your career. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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