Recently I’ve been curious about how to maximize team potential. This has led me to work on a module for my leadership academy on “Maximizing the Potential of Talent and Teams”. To kick off my leadership academy I wanted to create a definition of leadership that would capture and support the module. In doing so I came across this article with 30 different CEO’s giving their own definition of what leadership is all about. What I found most interesting is the enormous diversity in the statements. Some focused on envisioning vision, others on guiding and serving people, empathizing, knowledge, listening, courage, motivate etc etc. All brilliant stuff.

Having seen leaders in action across many industries and across large parts of Asia, Africa and Europe I think the first role of leaders is to create an environment in which people feel safe, cared for, are supported and can have fun. An environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and instills trust in people. Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last came up with a similar concept and said leaders have to create a circle of safety for their team members.

Getting the Most Out of the Company

Of course if and when leaders have created a circle of safety it is about how to get the most of an organisation. For those of you who know me either personally or through my blog, know that my personal leadership brand is all about ‘pushing boundaries’. For me, leadership is all about motivating people to maximise their potential. However, just focusing on maximising a follower’s potential leaves a significant gap since it doesn’t clarify the direction of that potential. As a result, leadership has to be about guiding people towards a common purpose.

This fits perfectly with my employee engagement model where research has shown that employees are willing to go the extra mile, speak highly of their organisation and are wanting to stay is driven by three elements: Belonging, Alignment and Growth. Of course these three elements are perfectly aligned with what Dan Pink’s book: Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This book explores that what motivates individuals is not the ‘carrot and stick’ approach, rather

  1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

The Circle of Safety

Combining the three elements along with motivating others and having a common purpose, I have definition of leadership that I prefer to use:

“The ability to create an environment where others are motivated to maximize their potential and guide them towards a common purpose

Combined within a “circle of safety”, this can be visually represented as:

Circle of Safety

Over the next couple of weeks I will start building on this definition and help you maximize team potential so that you can become an even stronger leader.