Hu Centered Leadership - Leadership Absolute #5 - Great leaders multiply or why the Borg will never win!
Okay, I confess that I am a secret Star Trek fan, and maybe I was looking for a way to insert my guilty pleasure into our discussion on leadership. I think you will find that this is a good fit for this topic.
Good Leaders Make Good Leaders
Perhaps the number one characteristic of good leaders is that they produce other good leaders – they multiply. To quote Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence - Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders. In today's competitive market, this is a crucial advantage for businesses.
Looking To Improve
The reason for this revolves around the concepts and practice of continuous improvement. One of those concepts is the need for innovation. Not just some innovation, but a constant flow of innovation. How does this relate to leadership? Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, sums it up this way; Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. As leaders, we can develop followers who will be very good at following and will, for all intent, do what they are supposed to do. Great leaders develop other leaders. These, in turn, not only do what they are supposed to do but always are on the lookout for ways to innovate and improve.
Followers React - Leaders Anticipate
Why is this important? Simply this; followers react, leaders anticipate. In a competitive market, that may well be the difference between surviving and bankruptcy. When you develop a team to be leaders in their own right, you create a group that can anticipate and innovate rather than reacts. It is necessary to understand that reacting places you at a disadvantage because it confirms you are already one step behind.
Failure To Develop Leaders Is Costly
I will not kid you it's hard! For most of us, this seems counter-intuitive. It means you look for people who are smarter than you and then invest in their success. The hard part is overcoming the fear that in doing this, you put your position at risk. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. The top reasons for leadership failure are as follows - leaders become selfish or greedy, they become reactive, and they stop developing their team. Note that nowhere in this list is the idea that they developed people who took their jobs. It is just the opposite where failure to develop the leaders on your team is a leading cause of failure!
Leaders vs Followers: A Competitive Differentiator
How then does this relate to the Borg? In the Star Trek series, the Borg was an alien race that operated from a collective base of knowledge. They grew by assimilating other cultures. Fashioned like a giant matrix, each member had access to that knowledge base, and as such, they were able to react and learn from threats quite quickly, which made them almost unbeatable. (Know any companies like that?)
Yet, for all their knowledge, they lacked a key advantage; innovation. The Borg had access to knowledge and could respond quickly, which initially gave them the upper hand. Yet, their weakness was in the fact that they could not anticipate or innovate. They did not have leaders but followers, and that initial advantage in terms of knowledge and speed of reaction could not overcome the group that could anticipate and innovate.
Great leaders multiply leadership in and through their team. By doing so, they grow and develop teams who can anticipate and innovate, which I submit is THE most potent advantage a business can have over its competitors. It is also a key feature of continuous improvement and the reason the Borg will never win. Work to develop the leaders in your team, and in case I forget, in the words of Spock, live long and prosper! Hu centered leadership - think about it.