Leaders Need Leadership, Too!

What separates your company from any other company?  The people do.

The people at your company are not the same people that work at your competitors, your customers, or your vendors.  Regardless of the widget you sell, your people are what really makes your company stand out.  If we agree on that statement, and I hope we do, doesn’t it make sense then to help your people be the best they can be?

Doesn’t it make sense to share everything you know, provide every reasonable opportunity for development, making leaders out of your followers?

That being said, I recognize that not everyone has the skills or desire to be a leader.  There is nothing wrong with being a great follower.  Leaders can’t lead if no one is following.  However, even among followers, there are people who can lead, no matter their current role, responsibility or title.  And, some of those people can also be future organizational leaders.

What separates the leaders at your company from any other company?  The investment you make in them.

Developing other leaders is one of the key responsibilities of a leader.  In fact, in his book Developing The Leaders Around You, John Maxwell wrote,

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

Even leaders need a leader to take an interest in their development.  While there are many companies that recognize the need to develop future leaders, it is an unfortunate fact that many organizations overlook the need for continued development of their current leadership.

In his article titled, “Leaders Who Lead Leaders” in the Gallup Management Journal, Kenneth A. Tucker wrote,

“The success of any organization is largely dependent on how its top leader inspires and leads other leaders.”

Tucker goes on to provide these keys to creating an environment for leaders to rise to greatness:

  • Important things get done, and done in a powerful way, when great executives create an environment where they capitalize on every ounce of talent of the leaders they lead.
  • They quickly rid themselves of “leaders in training” — executives who are just waiting for the real leader to tell them what to do next. Instead, they seek out people who have inherent leadership ability.
  • The effective leader of leaders looks to see whether his or her co-leaders have a big enough vision for their areas of responsibility. Great leaders know that the size of the vision determines the magnitude of the outcome — and the smaller the vision, the smaller the outcomes.
  • The effective leader of leaders steps back and allows co-leaders to “own” their decisions for their organizations or departments. The hardest thing for many leaders to do is to let go of control. The most effective leaders, however, prefer to invest their time preparing their senior managers to take control.
  • Great leaders understand that by positioning the leaders they lead for success, they help guarantee the success of the organization.

A good leader not only surrounds herself with other good leaders, but also commits time and energy to help those leaders become the very best leaders.  As Steve Farber wrote in “Greater Than Yourself,”

“Truly great leaders in life become so because they cause others to be greater than themselves.”

How do you help your leaders become great leaders?  How does your organization help its executive leadership continue their growth?  What human resource development practices helps differentiate your company? I’d love to hear your story!


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Eleanor Biddulph
Eleanor Biddulph
 is the EVP of Client Services at Progressive Medical, Inc.
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5 responses to “Leaders Need Leadership, Too!

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  2. Eleanor,

    I couldn’t agree more with what you are saying. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it? If a leader doesn’t let go of control and develop others to be better leaders, then they will be limited by the amount of contol they have. Like a good financial investment, the return on developing others just compounds on itself.

    What are some approaches and techniques that you have found to engage and encourage leaders to take the time necessary to develop others?

    Again, great article. Keep up the good work.



  3. David – thank you for your comment and good question. A somewhat lengthy answer, but leadership development is one of my passions!

    I am fortunate to work for a company that puts great value on education, including leadership development at every level. Over a two year period, every employee, up to and including the president, will have completed a comprehensive training about what leadership means to us (based on Kouzes & Posner’s model). Constant reminders and related activities take place; the model is included in corporate goals, we include the leadership practices as part of performance evaluations, we encourage (and fund) ongoing development activities, we created practice communities with practice champions, and have many more activities keep this in the forefront.

    The executive team must lead and model the way if we believe it is important to the company’s success, so we each have different activities that impact the development of leaders in our part of the org in addition to the corporate-wide activities.

    We are approaching 500 employees, so there is an ongoing challenge to keep development – especially at the “upper management” level – as a priority as we grow. However, if our success is to continue, I believe we must. And, it is up to the leaders to help the other leaders do so.


  4. Yes, it is a good article. Reach Out, Behave As Owners, Develop Others, Outperforms, Inspire Followers are some leadership qualities. More importantly, one must have the passion to develop others. Once this is inside the heart and the mindset of every individual in the organization, all the organization need to do is to provide the tools and platform to develop it furthers. This will accelerate the organization’s mission to be performing organization.
    However, people being people this has to be followed with some rewards, but I believe this will become secondary.


    • Eone – Thank you for the return visit to L2L and for commenting on my post! I understand what you are saying when you mention people being people and tying action to rewards. However, I hope that leaders being leaders would believe that the rewards of developing other leaders into even greater leaders is immeasureable to the organization, and not something they would seek for themselves.


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