The usual paradigm is that leadership equals follower-ship, or L=F. The true state of affairs is that leadership equals follower-ship plus the creation of other leaders, or L=F+L2. The imperative of leadership is not only to influence others and create those who are willing to follow, but to generate and encourage in others the willingness to lead. As a leader you will not only need to have followers, but you will also have to encourage others to become leaders in their own right. It is your ability to create this field of leadership in which followers and leaders interact, merge, and emerge, which will determine your legacy as a leader.
There is an old saying that there are three kinds of people in the world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened! Obviously leaders fall into the first category. What is not so obvious and is often missed in understanding this saying is that the leaders are the ones who make things happen by drawing members from categories two (those who watch) and three (those who wonder what happened) into the first category (those who make things happen).
Jack Welch of GE, viewed as one of the greatest CEO’s of all time, has said, “If we screw up the people thing, then it’s all over.” Welch and the executives at GE do exceedingly well in developing and cultivating other leaders through assignments, through coaching, and by focusing on both results and relationships. However, a leader cannot appoint someone else to be a leader. It is something that is drawn out, encouraged, and created in the interaction between a leader and the people around the leader.
Leadership is not something that is hierarchical or bestowed. It flows like a magnetic current of influence from those who are willing to step up to a higher level of functioning and being. Leaders draw others to function in leadership roles. At its best, this level is “spiritual” in its source and impact, connecting everyone in an inspired network of meaningful work.
Leaders define reality by laying out the scope of the enterprise at hand, helping to set a direction and velocity for movement, while supporting and enabling others to accomplish the constituent tasks. Leadership, in these terms, is the vital art and science of bringing people together in meaningful relationships in order to produce outstanding results.