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. But the reality is, today’s very best leaders have talented teams of people working alongside them and “behind the scenes,” driving 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 influence those talented — and not just smart — individuals to achieve their full potential.
Albeit a great first step, simply surrounding yourself with great talent isn’t enough to succeed, however. You’ve got to address your own leadership style and understand what you might be doing to support or stifle success. In my career, I’ve experienced different kinds of leaders, and their differences have had obvious consequences on how they hire and relate to their teams.
The Ivory Tower Types: These are the leaders who think of their role in a very traditional sense, meaning they must always be perceived as the smartest, most talented person in the business. To maintain this illusion, they must keep some distance between themselves and their other (possibly very talented) 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 all the head-nodding. These types of leaders foster cultures that lack challenge, creativity and employee empowerment. It’s a pretty old-fashioned (aka: ineffective!) way to run a business and manage teams. Talented employees eventually resist or leave.
The Grinches: Slightly more sinister and ego-driven than the “Ivory Tower Types,” the Grinches actually go so far as to refuse to hire great talent or purposely hold team members back because they feel threatened by their greatness and potential. These leaders crave control and must feed this beast however possible. Instead of developing their people, they stifle their gifts and spirits by putting them in growth-stunted situations that mandate mediocrity and deplete self-esteem. These truly talented workers will also escape such caves of control and move on to bigger and better situations, where they can grow, succeed and even pursue unimaginable dreams.
The “Legacy” Leaders: Disciplined, mature and unashamedly aware of their personal pitfalls, these types of leaders know that their success depends on others. They are not afraid to hire, develop and even let great talent “fly the coop” when they’ve earned their wings and want to go. In fact, these leaders have a dedicated management system for cultivating the potential of their talent and fostering a culture that inspires betterment, personal achievement and professional fulfillment. Why? Because they get measurable results such as low employee turnover, high company productivity and morale, and strong profits. Yet looking back on their careers, these leaders often say their greatest reward is the rich, professional experience they have had enabling people to achieve and succeed. Worth more than any treasure, this becomes their legacy.
There are other types of leaders, no doubt, but these profiles outline how different leadership styles impact people and professional success. Surrounding yourself with great talent is a crucial component to great leadership. But you must regularly scrutinize your leadership behaviors as well, and push yourself to motivate your talent and maximize each of your team member’s potential.
How has your leadership style change over the years?