Surround Yourself with Great Talent

Many leaders get caught up in thinking that great leadership is all about their personal talent and abilities. Worse, they sometimes let their insecurities or egos get in the way of hiring people who can do things better than they can! The reality is, today’s best leaders have incredibly talented teams of people working alongside them. “Behind the scenes,” these people drive productivity, profitability and overall success. Great talent is a key ingredient to making things happen and accomplishing goals. Moreover, it’s a leadership responsibility to onboard the very best and then to inspire and encourage these amazing individuals to achieve their full potential.

Still, surrounding yourself with great talent isn’t enough to succeed. You’ve got to address your leadership style, and create habits and systems to support and manage success. In my career, I’ve experienced many different kinds of leaders, and their differences have had obvious consequences on how they hire and relate to their teams. Here are a few:

The Ivory Tower
Ivory Tower leaders tend to think of their role in a very traditional sense, meaning, they feel that they must always be perceived as the smartest, most talented person in the room. To maintain this illusion, they keep a distance between themselves and their other team members so as not to appear vulnerable or inferior. From that position of authority, they’re doing all the directing and talking while everyone else is doing nothing but head-nodding. These types of leaders foster cultures that lack challenge, creativity, and employee empowerment. It’s a pretty old-fashioned (and ineffective!) way to run a business. Talented employees eventually resist or leave.

The Grinch
Slightly more sinister and ego-driven than the “Ivory Tower” type of leader, Grinches actually go so far as to refuse to hire great talent. They may purposely hold team members back because they feel threatened by another person’s potential. Such leaders crave control and must feed this beast however possible. Instead of developing their people, they stifle everyone else’s gifts and spirits, forcing employees into growth-stunted situations that mandate mediocrity and deplete self-esteem. These truly talented workers will escape such “caves of control” and move on to bigger and better situations, where they can grow, succeed, and even pursue lofty dreams.

“Legacy” Leaders
Disciplined, mature, and unashamedly aware of their personal pitfalls, these leaders know that their success depends on others. They are not afraid to hire, develop, and even let great talent “fly the coop” when it’s time for them to move on. In fact, these leaders often have a dedicated management system specifically to cultivate the potential of their employees. They foster a culture that inspires personal achievement and professional fulfillment. Why? Because by doing so, they get measurable results: low employee turnover, high company productivity and morale, and strong profits. Looking back on their careers, these leaders often say their greatest reward was the rich, professional experience they have had enabling other people to achieve and succeed. It’s an experience worth more than any treasure.

There are other types of leaders, no doubt, but these three profiles outline ways that different leadership styles impact professional success. Surrounding yourself with great talent is a crucial component to great leadership, yes, but you must regularly scrutinize your leadership behaviors and push yourself to motivate your talent and maximize your team potential.

How has your leadership style change over the years?


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