Free-Photos / Pixabay

When I look back at my career I’m proud of the business objectives and results I’ve facilitated as achievements, the organizational transformations that I’ve orchestrated, the innovations I’ve kick started in leadership and HR, and the impact I’ve had on numerous people’s personal and profession growth. However, more than all that, I’m most proud of how over the years I’ve helped over 50 individuals that have worked in my teams become powerful leaders of their own. To me that is probably one of the biggest achievements of my career.

If you ask me what a great leader will be remembered for I’d say it’s not for the profit or business expansions they’ve accomplished. Rather a great leader will be remembered for the powerful leaders that have emerged from under their wings. And while I’ve met many leaders who agree with me, there are very few who truly live by this belief. In fact, a great majority of them would have a leadership development track record that doesn’t reflect on this belief at all.

So why don’t more leaders focus on developing powerful leaders within their teams? I have a few observations that I’d like to share and some suggestions on how to replace passive followers with truly powerful leaders.

1. Tunnel Vision

With the immense pressure of striving for exponential growth in times of rapid changes, leaders have only one priority – deliver results today. With this tunnel vision, leaders spend all their time, focus and energy to achieve financial results and have no bandwidth for developing, coaching and mentoring their teams on growth opportunities.

To truly create powerful leaders of the future who can also deliver on today’s results, have your team members do just that – deliver the results. I’m not asking you to just have them work on the results, but also have them report it directly to your line manager during operational results meetings. Think of yourself as a football manager who’s responsible for coaching the team on how to play the game and helping them exploit their full potential. Sure you’re accountable for the results, however, it’s not you who works the field to score the goals, it’s your team. You plan the strategy, make substitutions, call the game play, however, you don’t play. It’s your team that does all the actions and delivers the results.

2. Grooming Beyond Training

Most leaders have this belief that training and grooming is an HR function. Hence, their focus is purely on getting work done from their team and leave all the developmental responsibilities on HR. Do you really think you can develop powerful leaders of the future from formal trainings? Think back at your own development and you’ll accept that the most impactful learning experiences didn’t come out of any course you attended. Instead what really developed your leadership mettle were challenging projects, exposure to difficult leaders and even discussions with senior figures in your company.

As a leader, identify what challenges your team might find stimulating to their career development and of course interests them. Next, articulate what experiences they need to gather to prepare themselves for these challenges and translate it into assignments, projects and their core responsibilities. Make it part of their developmental plan. The idea is to create an environment where experiential learning will walk them through their developmental path of becoming powerful leaders.

3. Lack of Self Belief

Even if none of them will admit it, most leaders fear losing their jobs to their underlings. Hence, they’ll stall their team’s development, stunt their growth, without information and key learnings and even shuffle people around. All this just to safeguard their position in the company, which really isn’t under threat in the first place. However, their insecurities cloud their judgment and ability to truly groom and develop powerful leaders.

If you’re a leader who really can’t shake off your insecurities and fear of losing your job, then I suggest you take that fear head-on. What would you do if you really did lose your job? What options and alternatives do you have? What opportunities would you tap into? What do you have to do, today, to prepare yourself for this outcome? Once you’ve dealt with the negative consequence of losing your job you’ll be much more confident and secure in your position. Hence, you’ll overcome the fear of your team member replacing you and thus focus on truly developing them, rather than fearing them.

To really build a leadership legacy that resonates for decades you need to create powerful leaders who can take on any challenge. With a strong, capable and competent team under your wing you can accomplish the greatest of successes.