Today I’m tackling another REALity Question! The purpose of our REALity Questions series is to give us the opportunity to discuss real leadership challenges we face and some of the practical solutions to those challenges. Here’s today’s question:
How do I become a leader who attracts leaders rather than just followers?
What a great question! If we only attract followers, we can’t multiply our efforts in performance and company growth. On the other hand, the more leaders you grow, the more leaders you attract. And we all know that “everything rises and falls on leadership.”
Think about it. As you perfect your leadership abilities, you’ll notice over time that you’ll start attracting higher caliber leaders. But the reverse is also true. If you lack the ability to lead or if you don’t care about growing others, you will attract lower caliber followers.
So how can you attract leaders to your team? Here are three suggestions:
1. Allow Your Team to Think
Followers don’t want to just follow commands or be handed the completed plan. They want to be part of the process.
Now, I know it’s not unusual for leaders to have a preferred plan already thought though. That’s okay and somewhat recommended. But you still need to involve your team in the plan. This means giving your team the opportunity to brainstorm about the challenge, so they can be a valued part of the plan and you can double check your thinking. If you really think you have the plan or strategy completely thought through, then I suggest you present it to your team, giving them permission to critique and approve it.
Giving your team the opportunity to think and then share their feedback (without fearing your reaction) is a top way to attract potential leaders to your team because they see an opportunity to serve and add value beyond just producing.
2. Invest in Your Team
Another great way to attract other leaders is by investing in your team. Spend time growing them. Be intentional about their growth – whether it’s leadership improvement or new skills development – during their time with you. When a leader or a follower passes through my leadership wake, I want to make sure I assisted in their growth while we are together.
3. Challenge Your Team
This last point is crucial. I can think of several excellent leaders on current and former teams who would have left me if I didn’t challenge them. Producers and potential leaders want to be stretched and challenged. You know the old saying that a rubber band is useless unless it is stretched. Some of your best leaders are exactly the same way. So stretch them. This might mean putting them in charge of a project, giving them a budget to oversee, or having them lead a meeting.
Who Are You Attracting?
John Maxwell once taught a lesson on knowing the health of your organization and of your role as a leader. He said he could tell what kind of a leader you are by watching two things: who is joining the team and who is leaving the team. If the people leaving a team are higher caliber than the people joining a team, there is a leadership issue somewhere within the company.
You have an enormous opportunity to determine your leadership philosophy! Challenge yourself to become a leader of leaders instead of merely a leader of followers. If you do, then I must warn you that you are not only in for an incredible ride, but more importantly, your wake will be full of people that you have impacted. In the end, more than title or money, that is a leader’s most authentic and fulfilling reward.