Best leaders develop other leaders in the workplace

Tim Haggerty

Zoomers and Gen-Xers and a post-pandemic world. Oh my. Are we really ready to lead in this emerging landscape?

The issues organizations face today didn’t happen overnight. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create the monsters at the gates. The pandemic only exacerbated the situation.

I’ve long believed command-and-control is dead, and leaders must molt into new leadership skins. With the impending shift in the work dynamic — the majority of workers will be Zoomers by the end of this decade — we must reframe our leadership focus towards servant rather than commander. The time has come to assess your role in leadership development in your organization.

Right or wrong, good or bad, you create leaders within your organization. Your employees take their cues from those leaders. And your customers take their cues from your employees. What does your market tell you?

Writing for the Association for Talent Development, Mack and Ria Story summarized the effects of what they described as five types of leaders: “When it comes to what’s going on in the organization, leaders are either making it happen (good or bad), allowing it to happen (good or bad) or preventing it from happening (good or bad). Ultimately, the top leader is responsible, whether they accept responsibility or not.”

Leaders who don’t accept responsibility for those they’re entrusted to lead aren’t leaders at all. Accepting responsibility is, in fact, the mark of a good leader.

The Storys offered more: “High-impact, transformational leaders know this and take responsibility for everything that is happening. Meanwhile, low-impact leaders avoid taking responsibility for what’s happening as they search for others to blame. They create a tremendous amount of distrust throughout the organization as they try to maintain power and control. 

“It takes an extremely high degree of character to make the transition to become a high-impact leader because you must move beyond only accepting responsibility for growing yourself. When you truly and sincerely choose to begin to grow and develop others, you must become responsible to others. Low-impact leaders are unwilling to do this. They have the ability, but they do not have the desire. Bottom line: If you invest abundantly in other leaders, your influence will exponentially increase through them.”

While the Storys described five types of leaders, I advocate for one style. Servant leadership gets to the heart and soul of becoming the type of leader who’ll not only maximize your potential, but also maximize the potential of other leaders within your organization.

While traditional leadership involves the exercise of power by the one at the top of the proverbial pyramid, a servant leader shares power. A servant leader puts the needs of others first and helps others develop so they can perform at their highest possible levels. Servant leadership turns the pyramid upside down. Instead of people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve people.

When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they unlock purpose and ingenuity in those around them, resulting in higher performance and engaged, fulfilled employees.

What are post-pandemic employees looking for? What do Zoomers want? They all want servant leadership. 

Servant leadership drives results in virtually any organization requiring human capital. But it takes a conscious effort to develop and drive the right leadership within your organization. It takes a conscious effort to engage employees in driving the results you want and need for your organization.

Here’s one more thought to ponder: Did you know everyone in your organization is a leader? Some lead things you want. Others lead things you don’t want. Why not train everyone to become a better leader?