One of the defining points about being a leader – is that you help your team get somewhere they would not have reached on their own. After all, if they can do it without you, what’s the point of YOU? A leader needs to inspire, support, set goals, motivate, train, develop, communicate – all those other skills and qualities that we talk about. They must possess vision, determination, endless energy, integrity, hope, compassion, creativity. All these things are important.
But the ultimate function of a leader – the whole point of YOU – is to help people achieve things that they just would not have done without you.
Let me illustrate that with a story. A friend of mine puts here success in life down to – amongst other things – a teacher she had in primary school. This teacher was strict, but warm and clearly passionate about her job as a leader. She spotted talent wherever it lay in the kids she taught – whether that was sport, art, music, or the more ‘academic’ skills. Children were given tasks, roles, titles, extra tuition – whatever was required to push them out of their comfort zone and into new pastures. She was able to show students who thought they were hopeless, that they had worthwhile skills and were worthwhile people.
And for my friend – well she was one of 3 students that this teacher thought to be untapped academically. She believed that these 3 students were gifted and it was her responsibility to get them through the gruelling entry exams for the only non fee paying grammar school in the area. She talked to these girls about her vision, and they bought it. As a result they worked through all breaks, lunch hours and after school for several weeks. They had extra homework to do as well. And at the end of the relevant term they went and sat the exams for a full day.
Hundreds of pupils from the wider area sat these exams and only 62 students were accepted each year. All 3 of the girls tutored by this teacher passed and got places. All 3 got exceptional O and A levels as a result and all 3 got 2.1 degrees at University.
But more importantly than their results – was how this teacher made them feel. By showing them true leadership, by talking to them, sharing the vision, working hard, having compassion, pushing them, training them, inspiring them, supporting them – she took them to a place they never would have gotten to on their own. She got them into the best school in the region, and she gave them something more valuable still. She gave them belief in themselves.
So let me ask you, where are you taking your team?