10 Major causes of failure in leadership:
#4: “FEAR OF COMPETITION FROM FOLLOWERS”: The leader who fears that one of his followers may take his position is practically sure to realize that fear sooner or later. Able leaders train understudies to whom they may delegate at will. Only in this way may leaders multiply themselves and prepare to be at many places, and give attention to many things, at one time. It is an eternal truth that people receive more pay for their ability to get others to perform than they could possibly earn by their own efforts. Efficient leaders may, through knowledge of their jobs and the magnetism of their personalities, greatly increase the efficiency of others and induce them to render more service and better service than they could by themselves. (by: Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich”)
It is hard to expand on what Napoleon Hill says here because his message and scope are so clear and comprehensive. However, it always astonishes me the number of business people that I coach who jealously keep certain tasks or information to themselves out of fear that a staff member or underling will be “too empowered”. When I once worked for a large international consulting firm, my middle-management associates would often ask me why I spent so much time training my employees to do my job. “Wasn’t I afraid of becoming obsolete?” they would ask. My response was always that I had no interest in being in my current job a year from today, that I wanted to move up the ladder and someday run the entire office, and then the entire division, the district, the region and so on. “That won’t happen” I used to say “if there is no one competent to fill my position to enable me to move up”. The by-product of preparing and empowering your followers is that they will appreciate the opportunities for advancement that you have prepared them for and will develop a great sense of loyalty, even love for you as a leader. Once you achieve a degree of love with your followers, it no longer becomes necessary to find ways to motivate them. There is no one who will work harder for your interests than someone who loves you. An “employee” may resent your wealth. A “follower” derives great joy out of helping you become more wealthy.
To that end, whenever I am hiring or mentoring someone, and the discussion of “job description” arises, the answer is always very simple. “Your job”, I say, “is to do everything and anything that you can do, leaving me free to do ONLY the things that no one else but I can do, and, along the way I will train you to do more and more, leaving me free to spend more time on things that only I can do.”
I think that Shelby Yastrow, former chief in-house counsel for the McDonalds corporation said it best: “It is the ethical obligation of every great leader in behalf of their followers to at all time be engaged in activities that are the highest and best use of the leader’s time.” One great example of this principle in action was Andrew Carnegie. As a young apprentice, Andrew’s employer encouraged him to grow in knowledge and responsibility until one day Andrew himself became a great leader and empowered those beneath him. Andrew eventually became one of the wealthiest men in history. There is certainly more to that story including some tragedy and regret, but the fact is that Andrew Carnegie could not have become a captain of industry unless his mentor had practiced this principle.
Your followers, who enable your princely success, have the right to expect that you will at all times be working as hard as you can for the ultimate benefit of the whole team. That only happens when you inspire and empower each of them to work at their individual highest and best use. “Efficient leaders may, through knowledge of their jobs and the magnetism of their personalities, greatly increase the efficiency of others and induce them to render more service and better service than they could by themselves.”
In short, elevating and empowering followers (instead of being fearful they may become your competition) multiplies yourself. You increase your footprint on the world and your princely influence grows exponentially.