Providing What Others Need To Succeed
A successful teacher is determined by how well they educate and equip their student to understand the lessons taught and apply their newfound knowledge.
Likewise, a successful coach is assessed by how well their athletes perform on the field, how their individual skill levels progress, and their overall competitiveness on the field.
And a successful orchestra leader, who leads a world-renowned classical team of musicians, is considered successful when the accomplished cellists, flutist, and other artists are able to harmonize their instruments, hit every note, and captivate audiences by marshaling the talents of their band.
Yet somehow when it comes to leadership, those same guiding principles of success – serving others, building winning behaviors and helping others in their charge succeed – seem to be jettisoned in favor of numbers, metrics and profit shares.
So the question we are posed with is this: Is leadership about helping others succeed, or just making the numbers?
Leaders are often described as teachers and coaches, and in fact those who are in teaching and coaching – as well as providing healthcare – are considered leaders because of their impact and influence in the lives of those they are involved with.
An article by CQ Net entitled “What is leadership really about? Evidence-based concepts for managers and professionals” creates the foundation for explaining leadership as having a “deliberate influence on people, groups, and companies.” When we understand that every organization is made up of people and groups of people, we realize that the ability to influence people to the most effective and personal degree is the essential core of leadership.
Further explanation by accomplished leaders in a variety of areas help drive this concept deeper.
A while back Kevin Kruse of Forbes asked a number of successful leaders to define true leadership:
Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
With that, Kruse concludes:
“So what is leadership?
“DEFINITION: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.
- “Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
- “Leadership requires others
- “It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome”
So if leadership is influence over people, translating vision and empowering others over a process of social influence, the resulting understanding is that helping others to succeed is the key and most important part of being a leader.
Leadership, as Kruse concludes, requires others and includes a goal. This goal cannot be attained through coercive, harsh or bullying methods, but rather providing the necessary tools, vision, engagement and environment that allows a diverse tapestry of individuals to reach their potential and contribute to the overall goals through their combined efforts.
Think of that teacher whose ability to meet the needs of individual students who come from various environments involving their families, socio-economic backgrounds, learning abilities and personalities impacts so many pupils to learn and be contributing members of society.
Or the coach who can harness differing levels of athletic talent and competitiveness and create a team dedicated to perfecting their sport and performing at a higher competitive level than they would have imagined.
And that orchestra leader who can harness egos, prodigy level talent and dozens of levels of talent into a precisely timed ensemble that brings even the best in their art to a higher level of performance.
It all comes down to leaders knowing that the core of their role (not title or power) comes from the benevolent charge to build others up, provide the needed environment and resources for success, then allowing their people to shine in their own right.
As Harvard Business Review stated in an older but still relevant article, understanding leadership comes from building relationships with people, not just favorites or top performers, but their “unique achievement is a human and social one which stems from [their] understanding of [their] fellow workers.”
In tapping into their self-awareness of their skills on human insight, leaders should “provide that recognition of roles and functions within the group that will permit each member to satisfy and fulfill some major motive or interest.”
That can only come from providing their people with what they need to succeed. Encouragement, vision, environment and training. A leaders title or role can never do that. Just the setting aside of self and devoting your efforts to building others up will meet the needs of what the most expert leaders in the world know to be true.