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Creating Leaders

“Great leaders produce other leaders . . . It takes a leader to know a leader, grow a leader, and show a leader . . . a leader who produces followers limits his success to what his direct, personal influence touches.” – John Maxwell“Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom PetersThe job of a true leader is far bigger than finding followers. A true leader has tremendous responsibility to develop himself or herself, and to develop other leaders. This takes continuous learning, feedback, and personal growth. If we don’t grow ourselves as leaders, we stop growing as a company or an organization.You grow yourself as you help others grow. Some of the basic things are the most important:Show people the picture and how they can win it. A good leader avoids telling people exactly what to do or how to do it. Leaders do need to define what the game is, what success looks like, what the standards are. Leaders need to share those details and why all of that is so important. This helps them see how they can think differently to solve big problems. Most people desire the big picture and the real facts so they can make a real difference.Help people believe in and expect to do big things. Everyone has some knowledge and skills. That’s not the biggest challenge in developing leaders. The true challenge is helping people fight the self-sabotage that commonly happens when we are to move beyond our comfort zone. Fear freezes us and destroys creativity. A fearful leader’s fear is contagious and will limit the team. A leader needs to communicate, “I believe in you!” and keep team members positive and confident and accountable while they handle big tasks.Maintain accountability without micromanaging. No one wants someone continually looking over their shoulder. That is a total waste of resources as well. Your job is to create a leader who can continually figure out the questions and sort through the answers—without your continued help. The faster you delegate responsibilities and hold them accountable for the results, the faster you will create leaders who will do incredible things and lead others to do the same.Lead them to constant personal growth by your personal example. The most important task of a leader in developing other leaders is to inspire and challenge them to constant growth. They need to demonstrate continual learning themselves. It’s impossible to expect them to do something they don’t see in you. The leader needs to be transparent, vulnerable, and open to change. The most successful leaders continually challenge themselves to grow.Research has shown that there are a number of key leadership behaviors that we can learn and develop. These behaviors are about managing our social-emotional reactions, developing a solid emotional Intelligence. Then leaders can build a team around them that is accountable, trusting, resilient, proactive, and passionate about their work and mission.If you want grow to be this kind of leader and cultivate this in your organization, these are the behaviors that are most likely to produce the greatest impact on your team’s productivity and engagement.Develop a high level of compassion. Compassion is more than empathy. It’s not just “feeling with,” it is actually training yourself to see situations through another person’s perspective. Compassionate leadership requires that you actually train yourself to consider and understand the other person’s stresses. Empathy is a more emotional connection, but compassion maintains a certain amount of emotional distance, giving leaders the ability to proactively assist another person, decrease the stress level on the team, and increase their productivity and effectiveness.Compassionate leaders develop more loyalty and trust within the team as they show genuine interest in team members’ success and well-being. They are committed to understand another’s perspective and opinion, even if they don’t agree. This kind of relationship has a greater impact on retention and productivity than raises and promotions.Practice this: Check in with their emotional well-being. Check out your own stress and frustration level. Foster transparency and be honest with people when things aren’t working out. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness benefits health and relationships.Work on your adaptation to change. The best leaders are able to quickly change course and help their team evolve. Great leaders are able to quickly change course themselves and also help their team evolve with the organization’s needs. Anne Dwane, CEO of Zinch, says, “Adaptable people aim to do the right thing at the right time for what they want to accomplish.” In order to do this, they surround themselves with people of a similar mindset. It is a risk-friendly place.These leaders love their work, continually push themselves and their teams forward, and aren’t afraid of occasional loss. They see mistakes as terrific chances to grow and learn.Practice this: Push yourself to new ways of thinking. Seek new solutions to problems, don’t immediately rely on what has always worked. Have a private weekly brainstorming meeting with yourself. Push yourself.Think like a coach. A coaching approach to leadership helps leaders develop a partnership with their team, and them with each other. A shared vision comes more naturally. As the team works together, teammates establish a shared vision for what needs to be done and how these goals will be accomplished. This then gives the coach a more personal and active role in each individual’s, creating deeper trust and continual growth. This sort of relationship will give you a more personal and active role in each individual’s development, create a relationship of trust, and foster an environment of continual growth.Practice by: When a team member does extremely well, don’t just brag on their skill. Re—enforce the processes they used. When they make a mistake, give them feedback to help them grow and fix the problem. Delegate in a way that develops people. Construct a developmental plan for each person on your team and review it often, Give recognition for effort. Get to know your team outside of work so you can see them as whole people.Develop skill in effective listening. Great leaders know that listening is often more important than speaking. Effective communication skills are key to building trust with your teammates and getting them to buy into your vision. Effective listening combines both verbal and nonverbal skills. Most people believe they listen and communicate well, yet research has shown that “the average person listens at only about 25% efficiency.” Effective listening fosters trust and bonding.Practice this: Repeat the other person’s key points. Remain open-minded. Be curious. Be fully present. Stay off your phone or computer when in conversation. Practice allowing yourself to be fully present when speaking with teammates.Communicate an inspiring vision. The leader is the one with the opportunity to motivate and inspire people to do their best work and grow. Effective leaders create an inspiring work environment that enables their teams to see beyond perceived limitations and step up to new challenges. They know how to create a strong sense of community. They regularly celebrate and reward achievements, and set standards for performance by modeling drive, initiative taking, and energy. As a result, their teams tend to see lower turnover, increased productivity, and increased motivation.Practice this: Live and breathe your company mission. Regularly communicate your values to your team. Give teammates ownership over challenging projects. Set stretch goals. Identify the problems you want to solve, then figure out the plan for solving them.A few of us are born with innate talents and skills that make them especially well-suited for greatness. But many more of us can grow from where we are, and grow others with us.

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