Great leadership is a group performance, with leaders developing loyal followers and unleashing other leaders.
Everyone has the potential to lead well, and everyone will have to lead at some point–in the office, at home, or in their community.
In this age of budget cuts, how can leaders develop other leaders?
Leadership is best learned through practice. Here are some ideas:
• Rotate meeting leadership periodically among members of your team, with you supporting–and afterwards coaching–the meeting leader. (Must you be in control of every meeting?)
• Assign people on your staff to represent your department at inter-departmental meetings, reporting back on activities. Seek feedback from peers at that meeting and then coach your colleague. (Must you be at every inter-departmental meeting?)
• Pair people from different areas and have them switch jobs for a set period, being coached by their buddy. (Coach the coaches.)
• Institute job rotation to help people understand the jobs others do and gain a broader perspective.
• Be quieter in meetings, letting others offer their ideas on issues, even if you can do it better or faster, and encouraging them to implement their solutions to gain experience. (The long-term leadership you gain from others will frequently overshadow what you sacrifice in short-term productivity.)
• Create rapid-action teams that different people can lead, enlisting colleagues–even in other departments–to assist. These projects are invaluable, real-world leadership experiences. Coach these team leaders when they have issues, but let them find their way, learning from their successes and mistakes (as long as the potential mistake is not mortal). Projects can range from the minor (a community event or company recycling campaign) to the major (a product-defect repair program).
• Hold regular brown-bag lunch meetings with your colleagues, discussing a good leadership book, chapter, article, or blog and how the practices apply to your work challenges. (Triple Crown Leadership is a great place to start. Participate in the meeting as a peer, not an authority figure, and focus on letting others find their leadership voice.)
What other practices have you used to develop other leaders?
Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards.