Whether you’re a top level executive at a global company or the owner of a small business, if you’ve been successful in the early years of your career, you likely did it the same way. You were extremely good at what you did.
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You had (and may still possess) a strong technical ability in some area.
I have a client who was a great roofer. I have another client who was great at fixing computers and setting up networks. I have yet another client who was an outstanding estimator and project manager. And because of these qualities their companies grew. I’ve experienced the same thing in building my business.
But at some point, your greatness hits a wall. You’re only one person and you can only do so much. It’s called capacity. One person can only produce so much work in 40-50 hours, no matter how good they are and no matter what efficiencies they may gain.
Oh I guess you could work 60-80 hours per week. That would increase your capacity…or would it? At some point a person reaches the place of diminishing returns, not to mention the need for some level of work-life balance.
After all that, let’s face it; being a great leader is not determined by how much work you produce. It comes from something else entirely.
So, what makes a leader great? There are two things.
True Leadership Greatness
There are two skills or qualities that set great leaders apart from all the rest. If you possess both, and have the character needed for long term success (see my post called, Are You Really A Person of Integrity?) , there’s almost no limit to what you could achieve.
1. Lead through others. As I mentioned before a lot of leaders get to where they are because they’re really good at what they do. To be a great leader, however, it’s more about what you get done through others.
Great leaders become multipliers. They extract themselves from the proverbial “weeds,” take their skills and abilities and use them to maximize the results that can be achieved by a larger collection of people, be it a team or an entire organization.
One of the biggest obstacles for leaders is the mindset that no one can do it as well as they can. In very few cases this is true. In most cases it’s couldn’t be more false. In Michael Gerber’s outstanding book, “The E-Myth” he completely debunks this perspective and shows why it’s necessary for leaders to create systems and processes and employ others to expand their capacity.
Pitch the limiting belief and start working to significantly grow your capacity, your leadership capacity, by leading through others.
2. Build and grow other leaders. Leading through others significantly increases your leadership influence. But this quality takes your leadership into an entirely different stratosphere.
Russ Crosson, in his book, “What Makes a Leader Great” says that creating other leaders in your wake is the single most important quality of a great leader.
Just do the math. If you learn how to effectively produce great results through others, that’s one thing. But, if you build five other leaders who are able to do that too, you have just exponentially increased the overall throughput your leadership is able to produce. That’s landscape-changing stuff.
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Building and growing other leaders isn’t easy, nor are your efforts guaranteed to succeed every time. First, building other leaders takes an entirely different skill-set than the one that earned you your early successes. Second, others you invest in won’t always turn out to be good leaders. But, it’s a risk that’s well worth taking.
What Will You Do?
The ball is in your court. I’m not saying that either of these things is a slam dunk. But, as the saying goes, you can have what you want, or you can have all your reasons and excuses for why you don’t. The choice is yours.
Take one simple step forward. Determine what the most important “next action” is and do it. Then repeat the process and stick with it until you’ve reached your goals.
Question: What needs to be your first step in the direction of leading through others or building other leaders? Share your answer in the comment section below.