“Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people.” -Brian Tracy
So far in this series I have discussed the qualities of a leader, how to get others to believe in your goal, and how to get the best results out of those who follow you. The final two posts will discuss the obligations a leader has to others and to themselves. With the power you are trusted with as a leader comes great responsibility. In order to maintain your leadership role, you must assist in improving those you lead. Previously I contended that having others work with you to achieve a common goal will multiply your efforts. This step is where your efforts begin to gain exponential results.
“Leadership is not magnetic personality—that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’—that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” -Peter F. Drucker
A leader has the rare ability to redefine the capabilities of those they lead. The same trust that was shown in you to lead will give you the credibility to make people believe they are capable of more. There is a confidence that leaders provide that can destroy the doubts of those who follow them. Instill this confidence and you will see your staff believe in themselves as never before. This allows them to replace their own fears and doubts with faith in the capability of the team and the leader.
“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” -Jim Rohn
To make the most of this newfound confidence you must continually raise standards. Providing confidence to your team is less effective if you do not try to focus and harness this energy. Positively maintain that you have faith that the team is capable of more. This expectation from you, combined with their confidence in you, will encourage them to rise to these new standards. This places them on the road to mastery, which I have discussed in the past as one of the three keys to motivation.
“I think a major act of leadership right now, call it a radical act, is to create the places and processes so people can actually learn together, using our experiences.” -Margaret J. Wheatley
In order to fully benefit from the quest for mastery, you must foster an atmosphere of growth. Some of those who follow you will gladly learn new information or methods if you make it available to them. Allowing them to share their best practices and providing them the resources to learn will encourage others to do the same. Some will be the first to step up and volunteer. They will then be able to share their knowledge with others. In this way you can determine who wants to step up and be a leader as well. This fulfills you primary responsibility as a leader: to create new leaders.
“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader
Passing on the traits of leadership to others is one of the most fulfilling acts of a leader. Leadership is not a skill, but a talent. You must inspire and then encourage the leaders amongst your staff or you will stifle them. If a leader is not leading with you, they are often leading against you. Use your leadership to develop others for their benefit primarily and you will notice a secondary benefit. As you have lead your team to unprecedented heights, people will start looking to you to lead bigger teams. In order to do this you must have someone ready to replace you and you must be up for a bigger challenge. The latter half of those requirements will be discussed in the final post of the series.
This is one part of a six part series on leadership. The overview of the series and links to the other parts can be found here. You might also find useful my previous series on “how to motivate servers” or one of my other posts on management.
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