Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Three Levels of Developing Leaders

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”  Tom Peters

A great leader is someone who develops the next generation of leaders. Do you discover the potential leaders on your team? 

Ralph Nader said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

The purpose of leadership today is to help unlock the abilities of everyone who can make a positive difference in the lives of others.

How can we as leaders help people grow and develop to the next level? Development helps to nurture the garden of people in our organization.

As leaders we have to ask ourselves, “Is anyone better because of the value we added to their potential?” That’s the question that every leader needs to reflect upon at the end of the day. 
The joy of dedicating your time and efforts to help another person succeed is the leader foremost responsibility.

Let’s think of the three levels of developing the potential leaders on our team:

Create partnerships

Remember as a leader who wants to foster a motivating environment, you have to create an environment of partnership and shared leadership. People like to be part of a big cause that rallies everyone on the team. The days of one person navigating the ship are long gone.

Everyone plays a role in the organization success. It’s up to the leader to find the true partnerships to accelerate the growth of the people on their team. When a group of people work together to achieve a common goal, the journey is worthwhile for everyone. Invite people to the journey of better leadership.

Embrace Dialogue on challenging issues

As we develop leaders, we need to confront the truth together with others. We must have an intense dialogue to confront and seek answers together as a team of leaders. We don’t always have the best answer and we need to look for ways to involve others to share their point of view. The whole is always better than its parts as the saying goes.

Challenge the status quo together

Once we have the partnership and the dialogue, we are ready to tackle the issues of the day. Why is challenging the status quo part of the leadership development? Many leaders today are frustrated because they find themselves alone at the top without realizing how to develop people to join them in wrestling with the big issues of the day.

As a leader, we need to embrace and expose potential leaders to the same issues and headaches we face on a daily basis. Some will argue that not everyone can man up to the task, but we learned from our experience that we needed to step into the fire without knowing or having the answers to every problem. we developed through those experiences that made us better leaders.


  1. Tal,

    I enjoyed reading your perspective on the "The function of leadership and am in total agreement.

    If current leaders do not recognize it is time to shift their prespectives and embrace developing leaders they will hit that brick wall before they know it.

    Your idea of three levels of Create, Embrace & Challenge is excellent.

    May I have you permission to use this information. I will soon be writing my Dissertation on Leadership and this information would be helpful. Of course you would be listed in my references.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    1. Be my guest :) and please feel free to use any of my material and I would love to hear more feedback from more people within your circle. Thank you again it means alot to me.

  2. Tal,

    Very well put. It provides pragmatic steps towards creating an environment where people feel connected to the one who is the leader. It is lonely at the top for most leaders because they are not available and therefore dis-attuned to those whose ultimately are the engine behind the potential success of the business mission. There is a specific set of brain circuits that mediate such connection and unfortunately there seems to be an inverse relationship between the highest levels of organizational leadership and the ability to manifest socially engaged behaviour. I have written about the gateway to attuned leadership which can be opened up through working with the brain's procedural learning and social engagement systems. By interrupting old patterns of individual and organizational behaviour and laying down new brain circuitry, new behaviours emerge and self organize into higher planes of organizational leadership. It all starts with leaders who put people first and who are interested in more conscious ways of being together within a purpose that transcends self interest - making a difference through common interest.

  3. Some of the barriers are inheriting leaders who were promoted because they were great "workers", you know the type that were reliable, worked hard doing there tasks, friendly, great with guests, all the potential stars we as leaders enjoy. The barrier was we promoted this individuals assuming they were ready for the next step, or needed someone to assist when a turnover occurred and thought this person would make a great leader. "Duh", okay you got promoted or left the company and the next leader came in and recognized what in the world were you thinking? This person did not have the character to lead, yes they do their job well, but struggled in the leadership area. Making the tough call, delays in response to areas critical as being a leader. The attempt to guide and lead them to becoming a more effective leader becomes ineffective, they feel they are doing a good job, become defensive and feel you are attacking them, after all they have been doing the job??? We need to take the time to qualify someone that is wanting to assume the lead role and not feel insecure that the leader role is ours to hold on to. We need to let go and have the person continue to assume this role. When the time arises either through a promotion or vacancy, this person will be ready to rock and roll.

  4. Tal,
    When I think of my greatest successes in developing leadership talent, I know that the 3 levels of development that you've outlined (create partnerships, embrace dialogue & challenge the status quo) have always been the underlying keys to those successes. Thanks for sharing these effective methods with others.

    Those individuals with potential leadership qualities must be proactively identified, assessed and nurtured by current leaders. Developing leadership talent is not a passive venture. Organizations need to actively embrace and pursue activities associated with leadership development to ensure continuity of a solid leadership pipeline that provides sustainable growth and ongoing success.

    I strive to consistently provide guidance and mentoring for my staff so that they have exposure to situational leadership challenges and solutions and experiential opportunities to prepare themselves for that next step in their career path. Leadership at all levels of an organization--from first line supervisors to senior executives--should generously share their knowledge and experience with staff identified as candidates with high potential for leadership growth. Release those old fears about developing staff to the point that they could do (take) your job. The best way to facilitate your own opportunities for growth is to ensure that there are others ready to fill the leadership void you create as you move up or on yourself.

    1. I like the vision you articulated for your team. I think it's the call of any leader to create more leaders instead of more followers. That's the future of leadership and mentoring.