It takes an intentional effort to improve as a leader. I think the best leaders expand their influence and leadership potential by continuing to learn and grow in experience. You can read books, follow blogs and Tweets, attend conferences, and hang out with other leaders. These are all good practices to improve as a leader.
In my experience, however, my leadership influence grows the fastest when it grows through the people I’m supposed to be leading.
Let me expand that thought.
Here are 5 ways I expand my leadership potential?
Invest in other people.
It’s amazing, but when I invest in others – they invest in me. I have had several mentoring groups or relationships where I am supposed to be the mentor, but I feel I learned as much as they did. The more I try to help others grow the more I grow.
The leader who sees him or herself as more of an instigator of growth rather than a provider of it is more likely to see the organization’s leadership expand. Invest in others and watch your leadership potential expand.
Allow someone you lead to lead.
When I get out of the way of my team amazing things happen. Now, first, I surround myself with people smarter than me about their area of expertise, but they make my leadership better. I may even get credit for the overall success of the team, but I’m quick to admit I couldn’t have done it without them. And, that is because I couldn’t.
Great organizations have a plurality of leadership.
Recruit other ideas.
I’ve learned people have better ideas than me – a lot better ideas. Actually, I’m an idea guy. I have lots of them. But, if the team is bigger than one – there’s always one more idea to consider. I’m a better leader – with more potential – when I open the important task of idea generation to more people than me.
Brainstorming should be a regular and promoted part of every leader’s agenda.
Celebrate another team member’s success.
When I hog the stage – or the recognition – I limit other people’s willingness to contribute to the success of our team. When I share the lime-light I expand my own capacity as a leader – and everyone wins.
Every leader should be a cheerleader.
Embrace other people’s decisions.
This is more than allowing ideas. It’s giving people a voice in your vision. One of the most dangerous things I’ve seen a leader do is to build an atmosphere of elitism, where no one else is welcome at the table of decision-making. When a leader values a range of thoughts and opinions it makes people feel valued and expands the leadership base of the senior leader and the entire team.
Don’t hold too closely to how your vision is implemented. You can hold on to vision, without mandating the way it gets realized.
As a team improves, so improves the leader.
The best leaders I know understand when the people they lead are growing in their leadership, it spills over into their personal leadership potential.
When others who are following a leader grow in their leadership capacity and influence, the senior leader’s capacity and influence increases. It truly is one of the win/win scenarios of leadership.