Become a Great Leader by Lifting Others Higher
- 24 Best Leadership Practices | Part 20 of 24 -
Many leaders from mid managers on up forget that there is one human need that is rarely satisfied, namely the desire to be recognized. As renowned philosopher William James noted, “The deepest principal of human nature is the thirst for appreciation and recognition." Leaders must remember to let others lead and accordingly get credit during the good times. Namely, when times become turbulent leaders must move to the front to shoulder the blame and when things go well leaders must give employees their fair share of the credit. As Arnold H. Glasow noted, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Simply, leadership status is not an excuse to take employees’ credit for yourself and/or to use employees as a human shield, blocking all forms of personal mistake while leaving a trail of human carnage along the way. Instead, having a leadership platform means lifting those below you to higher places and protecting them when times become rough. Indeed, leadership status means helping people be the best version of themselves by creating a culture where everyone lives and breathes by the concept that together we can accomplish anything as long as we don’t care who gets the credit.
The only way to accomplish each of these aforementioned goals is through bolstering employees’ self-esteem via giving credit where credit is due. For example, one of our recent OHI (Organizational Health Index) engagements revealed that employees were dissatisfied not because of lower than market compensation but rather because of a lack of recognition. Unfortunately, and as Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.” Regrettably, this is often also the case in the corporate world. Indeed, soldiers (i.e., the employees from the front-line on up) are often doing the heavy lifting and winning the battles. As such, they should also be those that get the credit. However, employee recognition is at best an afterthought and more often than not completely overlooked. Unless leaders from the CEO on down prioritize recognition, the notion of giving credit will likely take a back seat due to the speed and complexity of a typical day's work in this Fourth Industrial Revolution. Ultimately, employees can’t read a leader’s mind so leaders must not let the convenience of digital channels get in the way of giving face to face, public credit. Indeed, this is the most powerful form of giving credit and does wonders for the entire enterprise’s morale and culture. Indeed, such a mindset will unlock significant ROI, personal satisfaction, and employee inspiration.
To summarize, great leaders must recognize that their platform was given not to elevate themselves but rather to elevate others. As Andrew Carnegie noted, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” As such, give credit where credit is due and use any leadership title as an excuse to give others the credit during good times while taking the blame during bad times. Not only will such a mindset create other leaders rather than followers but enlarging others also makes you bigger in the process. Remember, your time as a leader may be fleeting but the investment you make in others is enduring.
Read the other best leadership practices HERE.
24 Best Leadership Practices
- Series Overview -
The following article is Part 20 of a 24 part series on leadership (See all 24 best leadership practices HERE). To summarize, leadership is everyone’s business. Moreover, leadership abilities are not some innate talent that some were either born with or not but rather is a highly learnable skill. As such, everyone has the potential to become a great leader as long as one embraces a mindset of continuous improvement. Simply, leadership is not so much about inherent gifts and raw talent but rather the emotional awareness, humility, and perseverance to understand that leadership is a lifelong journey that is never mastered. Indeed, aspiring leaders must acquire the endurance of a marathoner, the musculature of a sprinter, and the mental fortitude to embrace that there is never a finish line but rather an unending goal of continuous transformation.
Ultimately, the leadership journey is not about becoming someone else but instead is about becoming one's best self so that in turn one can help others become their best self. And, while there are many facets that go into successful leadership we have identified 24 best leadership practices all of which are grouped into one of three categories, namely (1) inspire, (2) empower, and (3) innovate (see all 24 practices HERE).
- INSPIRE: To inspire action, great leaders appeal to people's hearts more than their minds. Simply, visionary leaders plan with the mind, lead with the heart, and reflect with the soul.
- EMPOWER: Great leaders empower those they are leading while simultaneously creating a collaborative culture that promotes the notion that together we can accomplish anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit.
- INNOVATE: Visionary leaders embrace change and understand that the term "good enough" is used by the lazy to justify inaction. As such, great leaders disrupt themselves and their companies before others do it for them.
Leadership is the greatest race one will ever run – one without a finish line but also one with an exponential ceiling for those that embrace change, growth, and learning. While the level of employee talent may determine the potential of an organization it is the leader that ultimately unlocks that potential and determines the success of both the organization and its people. Although no leader will be a master at each of the proposed 24 leadership practices, awareness is often the greatest agent for change and continuous improvement. As such, we hope the proposed practices will be of service to you in maximizing not only your leadership potential but also the potential of those around you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joshua Seedman is the founder and chairman of PNI Consulting, a management consulting firm that specializes in global transformations. He has over 20 years of operating and general management experience with expertise in organizational transformations, customer experience, employee engagement, digital transformations, sales & marketing, operational turnarounds, culture/change management, and high-stakes negotiations. His experience includes executive roles within F500 companies, top-tier consulting leadership (McKinsey & Company), over 10 years of global P&L ownership, and corporate lawyer (Davis Polk & Wardwell). He received his MBA from Kellogg School of Management and his Juris Doctor (cum laude) from Northwestern University School of Law.