Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
How do you define a truly great leader? While most of us have witnessed great leadership at various points throughout our careers and professional development, it is challenging to accurately pinpoint the secret sauce in leadership success. Great leaders have some obvious qualities in common, like their capacity to share an inspiring vision for the future. Great leaders often possess passion and charisma. They are strong communicators who connect, motivate and enlist their teams to achieve lofty goals. And perhaps most notably, great leaders create a line of devout followers.
Not so fast.
Great leadership has very little to do with one’s ability to amass followers. In his bestselling book “In Search of Excellence,” leadership guru Tom Peters explains, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
While every great business leader attracts their fair share of admirers, they simply don’t consider collecting followers as either an objective or a gauge of their leadership success. Instead, great leaders understand that a key function of good leadership is to develop team members into the best version of themselves and leaders in their own right.
Characteristics of a truly great leader
Great leadership is a surprisingly nuanced and selfless role.
Great leaders embrace their employees, not just for who they are and the functions they perform now, but also for who they can become and the position they can develop. Strong, capable employees do not threaten great leaders. Rather, they value their team’s talents, recognize their potential, and leverage their spirit of achievement.
Great leaders create opportunities for their people’s growth — mentoring, encouraging, and elevating. They give their employees space to improve, the luxury to make mistakes, and the opportunity to learn from those errors. Great leaders grant their teams the freedom to explore and the capacity to excel.
Great leaders care about their employees first as people and second as workers. They conduct themselves with the greatest integrity and model every day what great leadership looks and sounds like. They strategically position their people for individual growth as well as the long-term success of the business.
Now, isn’t that far more substantial than merely creating followers?
How to be a better business leader
I could list characteristics of a great leader until the cows come home, but recognizing traits of a great leader and being one — well, those are two different things entirely.
So, what can you do to improve your leadership skills and elevate yourself to a truly great leader? It all starts with connection and engagement. The following are five actions you can implement to help you become a great leader who develops more great leaders.
1. Delegate tasks and activities
Empower your employees and create development opportunities by strategically delegating challenging tasks. Your willingness to delegate key activities demonstrates your trust in your team and your commitment to their development. It is also fantastic on-the-job training.
2. Be a transparent communicator
Employees should not be left to guess or assume how you feel about certain business dynamics. Being as forthcoming as possible with your team demonstrates that you respect their capacity to grasp and appreciate our positions. In short, candor builds trust.
3. Recognize excellence
Do you have a high performer or a passionate contributor? Don’t be shy about showing your appreciation and celebrating excellence. Everyone on your team should understand how grateful you are for their positive impact on the business’s overall success. And when they fall short, guide them to hit their mark next time.
4. Invest in leadership development
Create mentorship and leadership development opportunities. Remember, leadership development is not a one-and-done initiative but rather a sustained commitment to the long-term advancement of your people. Consider offering various leadership workshops, webinars and executive coaching programs.
5. Share your vision
By sharing your vision for the business, you provide your team with a clear sense of purpose and the opportunity for alignment. Your vision is an inspirational guide and a driving force that affects every aspect of your business and your decisions, so don’t keep it a mystery.
By developing your own leadership skills, you also enhance your ability to cultivate those same skills in your employees, which sounds a lot like your next big step toward long-term success.
This article is from Entrepreneur.com