Source | http://www.salon.com : By Jude Rake
Leadership is an exponential equation. That means the best leaders have a force-multiplying impact on their entire organization. They cultivate other great leaders who develop difference — makers into even more great leaders. This proliferation of leadership throughout the organization drives improved performance, which is the true exponential effect of a force-multiplying leader.
Leadership Principle #1
Servant leaders grow leaders and difference-makers, not just followers.
The Leader’s Challenge
Developing the talents and capabilities of the people in an organization takes time, energy, and empathy. Empathy is a so-called “soft skill” some people view as unnecessary in the rough and tumble world of business. They’ll ask: “Why should empathy matter when being a hard-charger is what gets you promoted?” Most companies and senior managers channel their priceless time and energy toward urgent issues and business-building projects to show how action-oriented they are, not on developing the talents of their people. Furthermore, when times get tough, many companies relegate talent and leadership development to the HR department, believing that leaders ought to focus on more pressing and important initiatives. They treat this as a luxury rather than the necessity it is.
What Matters Most
The most important thing leaders do is deliver results that meet or exceed goals. The best leaders know that they must have leaders at all levels of their company to make this happen.
When it comes to driving the results they desire, the best leaders sincerely believe that nothing is more important than talent and leadership development. They pay more than lip service to it. They do everything possible to cultivate a high-performing team that cascades this conviction and approach throughout their organization to maximize leadership at all levels—and this includes building empathy. They do not delegate it to HR! They partner with HR to make it happen! The best leaders teach their team and their entire organization to drive differentiation of talent, and they reward difference-makers. They understand that feeding the talent development equation illustrated below is the best way to fuel improved results and sustained growth.
Organizations inherently regress toward the mean when supervisors avoid candid discussions regarding performance. This problem is compounded when rewards are allocated homogeneously to appease the masses. The best leaders realize that grade inflation only leads to mediocrity. They also believe with passion that all people deserve an honest assessment of performance and career prospects because life is too short for anyone to hang out in a dead-end job without honest feedback. The best leaders understand that poor performers repel difference-makers, block the advancement of talented players, and call into question the judgment of the leaders who tolerate poor performance. Servant leaders don’t avoid the brutal facts in the interest of empathy. Instead, they have the courage and integrity to embrace tough discussions with poor performers and give them every chance to improve. If coaching with empathy and candor fails to yield improved results, they guide poor performers out of their organization with compassion, dignity, and support.