I coach entrepreneurs and their teams all around the globe. The teams that reach their goals all have one thing in common—a quality leader.

You can’t grow your revenue, profits and company culture without a strong and effective leader.

Unfortunately, some designated company leaders think leadership is all about ruling autonomously, voicing their opinions loudly and holding back other managers and employees. It’s like they’re taking cues from dictators and 16th century kings.

It’s important to remember, a leader is measured by his or her influence—not his resemblance to King Henry the VIII.

Yes, leaders have a lot in common. Most are motivators, communicators and decision-makers. But outstanding leaders also embrace these four often overlooked leadership lessons:

  •  A leader grows other leaders. Not wanting to be outshined, misguided leaders often try to embolden themselves by stifling others—especially those who demonstrate strong leadership potential. The truth is, when you empower others, you bolster the entire team. This furthers your company’s mission and is a direct reflection of your success as a leader.
  • A leader knows how and when to follow. Effective leaders surround themselves with smart people who can offer unique solutions and insights. As a designated leader, you won’t always know the answer—let the person who does lead the team through that project. Not only does this grow other leaders, it frees you to lead in other areas where you are more knowledgeable and efficient. The next time a team member steps up to tackle a project, remind yourself to follow like a leader.
  • A leader shows vulnerability. Team members trust successful leaders, and no one trusts an impenetrable robot. One way you can gain your team’s confidence is by exposing your own vulnerabilities. Allow yourself to share your fears and concerns. Your team will relate with you and support you through the company’s mission. If you’re a leader, remember: vulnerability can be your greatest strength.
  • A leader is empathetic.  Members of your team will fail. When that happens, have their backs. They need to know they’re supported at their best and their worst. Further, failures are some of the greatest growth opportunities. When a member of your team fails, don’t miss the teachable moment that could alter his or her outlook and development.

There are many definitions of leadership. To me, social psychologist Martin Chemers’s explanation captures the often-missed essence of leadership, which centers on social dependence rather than isolated independence:


Chemers defines leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” In other words, a quality leader cannot exist without a team.


Originally published in The Tennessean.

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