Out of all the leadership traits, the most valuable is the ability to develop and multiply more people into leadership positions. According to leadership expert and best-selling author John C. Maxwell, multiplying leaders is “the single greatest investment you can make because it produces the single greatest return.”
When organizations rely on the genius of one person, they find success is a constant battle. Entrepreneurs who try to lead every aspect of the business cap out on their growth and personal freedom. Micromanagement can also lead to increased stress, turnover, disengagement, burnout, and low morale. For example, in My Way or the Highway, a survey conducted by Trinity Solutions found 79 percent of workers experienced micro-managerial behavior. As a result, 69 percent of respondents said this made them consider leaving their current job.
It goes without saying, as a business grows, so should its people. By becoming a multiplying leader who ignites passion and vision in others, business owners and executives can successfully guide the development of the company and those within it.
This list of leadership qualities identifies the characteristics to grow within yourself, so you can grow them in others. Below, learn the leadership traits of a multiplying leader.
Practicing accountability is one of the most important leadership traits a multiplying leader builds into their company’s culture. Creating an environment where leaders and employees acknowledge their errors and develop a course of action for fixing them builds transparency and respect among team members.
Additionally, when a business owner, executive, or manager takes ownership of their actions or words, they lead by example. As a result, the facade of perfectionism within the workplace quickly crumbles. Researcher and best-selling author Brené Brown tells Forbes in an interview, “Most of us don’t trust perfect and that’s a good instinct . . . Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement.”
Instead, Brown suggests eliminating shame from a workplace by replacing it with vulnerability. As Jocko Willink writes in Extreme Ownership, “Open conversations build trust. Overcoming stress and challenging environments builds trust. Working through emergencies and seeing how people react builds trust.” While these emotions can elicit uncomfortable responses, being vulnerable and honest strengthens team bonds.
Practice Gratitude and Celebrate Wins
One of the best leadership practices is giving thanks and acknowledgment for work well done. According to research conducted by Gallup, “Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work.” In contrast, lack of recognition and appreciation causes turnover, disengagement, and low levels of productivity.
Multiplying leaders emphasize moments that build team unity. Collectively celebrating individual or team wins recognizes people for their hard work. Additionally, it makes employees feel valued and more closely bonded to those they work with. Maximizing joy within the workplace not only enriches peoples’ lives, it also engages employees with their work, thus leading to higher productivity. In other words, leaders can’t go wrong by creating happier workplaces.
Lead a Mission of Just Cause
A top leadership trait is being powerfully motivated to fulfill a mission that’s larger than any personal gain. Articulating a company mission in a clear, inspiring way is key for multiplying leaders. If you can’t tell a purpose-driven person what they’re fighting for and why, they’ll search for another person they can join forces with.
Most importantly, mission attracts the right people to work together on a worthy cause. When mission is the focal point of the business, finding team players who believe in and reinforce this cause amplifies organizational impact. For example, hire and cultivate leaders who are motivated by work that helps others. These people exhibit a tendency toward leading with a servant’s heart, which is a core trait.
Create a Culture of Kindness
One of the most desirable attributes of a multiplying leader is the ability to build a team culture of kindness and respect. In fact, without kindness the consequences are dire for organizations: low productivity, office drama, poor collaboration, low morale, decreased employee retention, loss in profits—the list goes on.
Guiding an organization with a servant’s heart has a powerful impact on shaping an organization. Employees model the behavior of a company’s executives and managers. When treating people with kindness and respect becomes the “norm” at work, it undeniably affects the way a team interacts and bonds with one another.
A kind person practices and improves upon:
Find team members who are dedicated to self-improvement for the betterment of others. When cultivating them as leaders, “Reward clarity and kindness and real conversation,” writes Brené Brown in Dare to Lead.
Provide Clarity and Direction
Multiplying leaders are organized and strategic. They keep their eyes on the company vision and design a course of action with the end goal in mind. By using visualization techniques, they imagine fulfilling the mission of their team, and then work backward, analyzing what each step toward goal achievement looks like.
Similar to any great coach, a multiplying leader effectively positions people in roles that play to their individual strengths. By providing direction and strategically putting the right people in the right places, they optimize the team’s overall abilities.
Growth within an organization and its people doesn’t happen spontaneously. Leaders must consistently create systems and habits that give clarity to those they’re leading. If they don’t, the team starts traveling off course. It’s the leader’s job to provide a plan of action while encouraging, inspiring, and motivating their team toward new heights.
Focus on Mentoring Others
Too often, people find themselves unintentionally falling into leadership roles. This happens when a business owner, CEO, or manager believes one of their star players is ready for a promotion. Yet, the largest part of today’s workforce, millennials, don’t feel adequately prepared for leadership. According to research from Deloitte, “More than six in ten millennials (63 percent) say their ‘leadership skills are not being fully developed.’” This means, without mentorship, most new managers don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be a leader. They’re just expected to be one.
Cultivating leadership traits in new leaders requires intentionality. People who are serious about multiplying leaders within their organization must focus on mentoring others. It’s a process that requires time, effort, and dedication.
Start mentoring team members by:
- Carving out time each week for mentoring key players.
- Identifying and sharpening each person’s strengths during these sessions.
- Asking them to articulate their life vision and goals.
- Providing resources (books, podcasts, etc.) that encourage constant growth.
- Sharing about what has shaped your leadership style and helped you grow.
- Creating space to discuss what they are learning and working on each week.
Equip People to Problem Solve
When leaders feel the need to focus on solving every single company problem that arises, they’re left with little time to work on actually growing the business. Rather than intervening in matters that don’t require their attention, multiplying leaders create an environment that encourages team involvement in resolving issues and moving forward.
Equipping employees who display problem solving skills not only helps multiply leaders, it frees up time for business owners. For instance, a problem solver’s ability to identify obstacles in the context of overall goals, then articulate a clear path toward a solution encourages team collaboration. In this way, team members learn how to resolve issues and move forward without the need for executives and managers to step in.
The Next Steps in Multiplying Leaders
Great leadership starts with you. A person cannot become a multiplying leader without first recognizing the attributes of one, then integrating these characteristics into their own leadership style. As business owners and executives develop and grow, so will their employees. In the process, the possibility for multiplying leaders becomes infinite.
For additional reading on becoming a multiplying leader, check out the top three books that inspired this article:
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