Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

At Performance Management Systems, we believe leadership is universal. Leadership is not a title; it is a way of being. It is not exclusive to the CEO or the board of your organisation. Whatever job title you hold or age you are, you are already a leader; it’s just a matter of choice as to whether you let what happens, happen, or you purposefully choose to practise your leadership and make a positive difference in your world.

As a starting point, you had to lead yourself to get that job in the first place. At one point or another, there’s a fair chance you have had to lead tasks, projects and other people, both within your own organisation and externally, to get where you are now. And that’s just in a professional capacity.

On a personal level, we lead ourselves regularly without even necessarily realising we are doing it. If you’ve ever bought a house, a car or a holiday, for example, you have led yourself through the process. You will have created a vision of needing something to fit your purpose, you will most likely have researched the options, then made a decision on which option you were going to commit to. You may have had to identify and hire third parties, e.g. surveyors, mortgage advisors, travel agents, etc., to bring their expertise to assist in reaching your decision, and you will most likely have met a deadline by which you had to complete the purchase. All of this is an example of personal leadership and applies skills which can be nurtured and transferred to the business world.

A common misconception is that you can’t be a leader in work if you don’t hold the top position in the company. While, for some, it may be unlikely that you will reach that job title anytime soon, it doesn’t mean that you cannot positively and powerfully lead yourself and others to make a vital contribution in achieving your organisation’s goals.

In schools, a class teacher may feel that they are not a leader because they are not the Head of the school or department. Yet that teacher is leading maybe 30 children to develop vital skills, knowledge and behaviours that will serve them throughout their lives. Successful sports teams will often talk about having leaders in several positions; for example, they might have a defensive captain and an attacking captain as well as the main team captain, and they require multiple players who are capable of making crucial leadership decisions under pressure.

It is much the same in business. Which is likely to be more successful: a business with one leader and an entire company of followers who are all waiting to be told what to do; or a business with leaders throughout, all capable of making key decisions and moving quickly to innovate, capitalise on situations or correct errors in order to make progress?

A quote attributed to Tom Peters, a best-selling American business writer and consultant, states that ‘leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders’. So if you’re reading this in a position of defined leadership, such as a CEO, what are you doing to create more leaders in your organisation, as well as continually improving your own leadership? And if you’re reading this from any other position, believe that you can be a leader and actively seek opportunities to intentionally practise and develop your leadership ability.

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