Some say that leadership is lonely. But I have found the opposite to be true. Real leaders are seldom alone and need not be lonely. Real leaders are always developing people around them. They are surrounded by people that they care about. They are continuously calling people to something. They lead with and alongside a team that they are developing and inspiring.
Here are a few things that I have learned about real leadership over three decades of being a leader.
- Leadership is not about doing all of the work yourself but instead continuously building teams around you.
- You can learn a lot about how good of a leader you are by looking at the up-and-coming leaders that surround you.
- What matters is not how good of a leader you think you are, but whether or not people are following you.
- If you are leading well, the people on your team should feel your investment in them, know that you want their best, and see that you are the biggest believer in them.
- The people around you should be growing and becoming better leaders themselves.
- If you are genuinely developing the people around you, some of them will even outgrow you.
- Real leadership is about developing the people around you and going somewhere together as a team.
Any of us can move toward real leadership by making a few simple shifts in thinking and practice.
- Instead of complaining that you do all of the work alone, focus on bringing people to where you are.
- Instead of doing all of the work yourself, focus on leading with and alongside other people.
- Regardless of your leadership role, always work toward building a team around you.
- Spend substantial time with the leaders that you are developing. You aren’t going to develop anyone without spending time with them. (It’s hard to find a better model for this than Jesus.)
- Invest in the people around you. Help them develop, grow, and become better leaders themselves.
One final thought: Real Leadership is not just about you getting to the finish line, but seeing how many people you can take to the finish line with you.