The Marks of a True Leader

“True Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

On one hand its such a simple quote. On the other hand their isn’t a leader in the world that would say they have mastered it.  Behind this leadership quote is a lifetime of experience, effort, successes and failures. Many of us have falsely believed that the more followers we have, the more influential of a leader we become.  Unfortunately this type of approach doesn’t result in creating more leaders. So how do true leaders create more leaders? What does it take to help another person develop into a better, more educated, more well rounded version than yourself?

A small ego

I wrote about ego a couple weeks ago. Ego is defined as our self-centered, self-serving ambition. The desire to be more than, to be recognized for, or to be elevated above others.  It is literally impossible to help create more leaders if you are only concerned with your own self-serving ambition and have the need to be elevated above others.  Unfortunately, many of the praised leaders in modern times like Steve Jobs have been put on a pedestal for this type of approach.  The result: more young professionals with the mindset that leading is mostly about them and creating people underneath them that must fall in line.

An open-mind

A leader’s mind can be their greatest asset or biggest weakness.  David Ossip, the CEO of Ceridian who was highlighted in great piece in Forbes said, “If you have an organization that can’t change, it will become extinct.”

Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Duke basketball coach is known as one of the best basketball coaches of all time. But what many may not know is over 20 of his former players and assistant coaches are now head coaches at colleges or in the professional ranks. If Coach K had a closed mind and kept all the talent to himself, he would have reached a much smaller number of people. Instead he created more leaders, and now his influence, values, and beliefs spread to 20+ programs and thousands of other people.

A humble heart

John Wooden said “Talent is god-given. Be humble. Fame is man given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be Careful”.  Without humility and being grounded in a leader’s heart, they have little to no chance to allow others to visually see it, feel it, and want to emulate it themselves.  I like to think of it as, if leaders aren’t humble what are they?

A purpose worth striving for

In next week’s episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Dee Ann Turner taught me a lot about how critical the purpose of Chick-Fil-A’s business was and is to it’s success. Their purpose has remained the same for 40 years, “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Want to know why Chick-Fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, created more leaders not more followers with this purpose?

“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”  – Truett Cathy.  

Having a strong purpose for existing is one of the clearest and simplest ways to create more leaders in your organization. LearnLoft’s purpose is to “Teach modern professionals how to add value to their organization and the world.” What is yours?

A confidence that more talent is right around the corner

“I have observed that those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who, keep it under the body; are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self possessed, patient, and polite.” – Booker T Washington. It would be impossible for leaders to stay calm under pressure, and exemplify what Booker T Washington describes if they don’t have confidence that more talent is right around the corner.  One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is holding people back for fear that they will never find someone as talented.

All these marks reference someone who is a living example of what professional relationships should be all about – helping others become the best version of themselves. When you do, you leave a legacy and  and your impact will live on well past your time in at an organization or in a bigger picture your time on this earth.

Online Leadership Programs. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping modern professionals learn how to add value to their organization and world. Find out more about ‘Getting Leadership Ready’, a program designed to help young professionals understand what leadership really is and how to stand out as a potential leader. Their brand new program ‘High Performance Leadership’ teaches the core principles of performance leadership and provides tools and techniques to drive accountability in teams.

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