Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

We’ve all been there; you come across someone in a high-powered position and wonder how exactly they got there, because they just don’t demonstrate the leadership qualities someone that high up the ladder should.

It’s more normal than you might think. All too often managers get elevated to roles that don’t sit well with them, and they do seem like a fish out of water. Maybe it’s some kind of favoritism at play, or a reward for a job well done in the past, but not all great managers make for great leaders. And that makes for a domino effect that impacts those directly under the leader in question.

Leadership is about more than just ticking items off the checklist and ensuring things get done right. That’s the subjective aspect of things; the more human, qualitative aspect draws on empathy, encouraging team members to grow as people, expand the boundaries of their knowledge and wisdom, freeing them up to be all they can be. Sometimes, that might mean handing over the reins and affording a greater degree of autonomy than you were prepared to at first.

Of course, results will dictate your success as a leader, but it’s also about another, important, ‘R’; relationships. All too often, it has been said that employees don’t leave the company, they leave the manager they report into. And if you’re getting results without building the relationships that should underlie it, you’re not really laying down the sticky, sustainable, long-term roots of success. Results and relationships are two sides of the coin that must be mastered simultaneously.

Master these 3 elements of leadership, and you will not only grow your bottom line, but your tribe as well, strengthening the chances of long-term success.

Shared sense of ownership

The best of leaders draw everyone into their field of gravity, making them buy into their greater sense of purpose and vision. Think Steve Jobs at a product launch, or pushing his team ever harder to do more and think higher than they had ever done before. Granted, there are those that say Jobs was a tough taskmaster, but those same voices go on to say there’s no one else they’d rather have worked for because Jobs wasn’t creating a product, or pitching a service; he was in the business of changing the world, one gadget at a time.

That sense of feeling greater than oneself is a powerful motivator, which people can buy into, knowing there’s a promised land they’re headed to, and how they’ll get there. The “why” of it all keeps everyone’s eye on the ball, working towards a common goal. The shared principles, values and objectives drives them all on across their daily journeys. And what it unleashes is not amazing productivity, but powerful passion that can be channeled for success.

Dissipation of power

As so memorably quoted by Kipling, “the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” Teams and organizations are built on a power matrix that isn’t just centered on the leader. By releasing control to the team, leaders empower their tribe to achieve the results needed, and this fosters a sense of accountability and loyalty. Great leaders have shown that they increase growth horizons and develop new strengths in followers, making it all about the greater good and not personal gain. Make no mistake though, these leaders stand to gain thanks to the fierce loyalty and influence they wield standing at the helm of their teams.

Openness to learn

Some of the foremost global leaders have a voracious appetite for knowledge. Consider this: Warren Buffett spends five to six hours a day reading five newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Their success then is not by chance; it is by design. It is thus an intrinsic quality of great leaders that they seek to learn something new at all times.

And it’s not just on the personal front either; they appreciate their employees’ talents, and hone it to make the most of it, growing them and thereby fulfilling the organizational mission.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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