As a Leader, What is Your True Function?

If you were asked what is your true function as a leader, how would you respond?  Would it be, “My function is to lead the team. My responsibility is to achieve our goals. My job is to make sure that everyone gets their job done.” While these are all good answers, they miss the True Function of Leadership.

True Function of Leadership

The true function of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers.  Take a moment and think about that statement……………..Create more Leaders, not more Followers.  What does that take? What are the benefits?  Is it worth the time and effort?

Leaders Are and Were Successful

Most, if not all, of the leaders I have met were good at what they did.  That’s why they are sitting in those seats.  Fantastic at sales and you’ll find yourself as a Director or VP of Sales.  Incredible at Supply Chain and the CSCO role is not too far away.  Unbelievable marketing insight….well, you get the picture.  In the countless presentations and workshops I have conducted, those who were leading were great at the function or division they were leading.

Create Leaders

Now, for those of you in leadership roles, what if everyone on your team was as good as you?  What if you spent the time to pass along your experience to your team?  What would happen if you developed subordinate leaders who had the opportunity and latitude to act like a leader? How easy would your job be? I’m not saying that you don’t set the course.  As the leader, you always have 51% of the vote.  But if your subordinates understood the direction and could make decisions to achieve the goal, I think you would find life a lot easier and success more easily obtained.

Strategic Corporal

General Krulak once wrote an article, “The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War.” The premise of the article was that a Corporal, whose average age is 21 yrs old, is now making decisions on the battle field that can have strategic and international consequences.  To deal with this scenario, the Marine Corps trains, equips, and empowers the lowest member of the team.  The Marine Corps creates small unit leaders.

Judging Leaders

There are many ways to judge a leader.  However, I believe that as a leader we should ultimately be judge by the leadership of our subordinates.  How they perform when we are not around is vastly more important than if we are looking over their shoulders.  Achieving this type of cultural DNA takes work.  Better yet, it takes commitment.  However, the long term benefit to your team far outweighs the short term effort.

Judging Yourself

I have often posed this question to audiences as something to consider with respect to leadership.  Could they, as a leader, not show up to work one day?  Literally pick a day out of the week, unplug from the computer, turn off the cell phone, and just not show up.  Would the wheels come off or have they produce more leaders who could execute in their absence?  Do they have a team of lemmings or people who have and are growing in their thought process and leadership skills?  Would they show up they next day to a train wreck or a team that almost barely noticed their absence?

If you could take a day off without telling anyone, then you have a high performing team of leaders.  If you don’t think you could, then start focusing on producing more leaders and replicate your past success throughout the team.

Patrick Houlahan