6 Steps That Help Generate Leaders from Followers

Guest post from Taffy Williams:

Leaders must be
creative and agile in their thinking in order to create the leaders of
tomorrow.  It is easy to stand back and
give orders and assume all knowledge resides with top management of the
business.  Working in this manner fails
to utilize the skills and knowledge of the workforce, diminishes their critical
thinking skills, and stifles their creativity. 
Failure to encourage and demand more agile and critical thinking from
the team results in management having to figure out everything all alone.

Good leaders
develop the skills of their teams and those leaders learn from the team as
well.  It is critical to recognize that
one person does not possess all knowledge and that other team members may be
better suited to solve critical issues. 
Working with the team and taking advantage of the 6 concepts below will help
create a stronger team that is more willing to follow their leader.  It also will help the leader with the
critical task of succession planning.

1)    
Teaching: 
Teaching goes both ways.  It is not
possible for one person to know everything, so teaching the team what you know best
and learning what they know are both important. 
People often view their teachers with respect and they feel empowered
with new knowledge and improved skills. 
The benefits go in both directions and newly learned skills help the
team become better able to take on more complex challenges.

2)    
Helping: 
Sooner or later, tasks may become beyond the skill set of anyone.  This is a great time to enhance capabilities by
aiding the team without doing the job for them. 
It is a teachable moment and the act of helping and teaching will
further their skills and build a stronger relationship.  It is much easier for people to follow a
leader they know wants them to succeed.

3)    
Problem solving: 
Problems do not always have a readymade solution.  It may require all the creativity and
ingenuity of the full team to identify and resolve the problem.  Participation in the review and decisions of
steps leading to a solution build stronger teams.  The team will be more inclined to follow when
they see the leader in the trenches with them. 
A new solution generated by the team creates strong feelings of
accomplishment and greater feelings of ability to tackle larger issues.

4)    
Encouraging: 
Everyone needs encouragement from time to time.  This is especially true when several failures
have occurred.  Reaching lofty goals is
often not a straight line and many twists and turns can cause someone to become
discouraged.  This is the time that they
need encouragement the most.  They will
see the leader as standing with them and not in judgment of them.  The result is a willingness to work harder
and take on more difficult tasks.

5)    
Insisting on not giving up: 
It can be very easy to want give up when reaching a roadblock in a
project.  There is almost always a
solution to any problem but it requires sticking to the task of seeking a
solution.  It may require obtaining help
or viewing the problem in different ways. 
It is important to provide encouragement and insist that giving up is
not an option.  It is through the
successful achievements of tacking “impossible problems” that the team learns
that they can make anything happen if they want to do so.

6)    
Letting them lead too: 
One of the hardest things for managers to do is give up control.  Failure to do so will ensure never having
members that can take over or run on their own. 
By letting the members lead from time to time, it becomes possible to
sort out those that may need to be promoted or might even take over.  Some large corporations often identify tasks
to assign to team members so the board can assess those that may take over
running the company should it be needed. 
Think of the latter case as a great way to create a succession plan!

 

The key is to
be a leader that cares and works with the team members.  Remember that both sides have knowledge and
skills that may work in a synergistic manner to take the business to new levels
or solve really difficult problems. 
Leaders know they must make use of all the talents and skills at their
disposal to achieve greatness.  They also
know that they have the responsibility to teach others to be the leaders of
tomorrow.

TAFFY WILLIAMS has been a successful entrepreneur and
advisor to entrepreneurs for over 30 years. The founder and president of
Colonial Technology Development Company, which assists start-ups in technology
commercialization, he writes the popular “Startup Blog,” as well as articles
for Examiner.com. He is the author of THINK AGILE: How Smart
Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed
.