10 major causes of failure in leadership: #6: SELFISHNESS:

“Leaders who claim all the honor for the work of their followers are sure to be met by resentment. Really great leaders claim none of the honors. They are content to see the honors go to their followers because they know that most people will work harder for commendation and recognition than they will for money alone.” (by Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich”)

When Nicola Tesla left his position with Thomas Edison in 1885, his discoveries and insights on the nature of electricity were so cutting edge that he quickly found a position with Westinghouse Electric, related to the construction of the first mainstream electrical power plant in Niagra, NY. Please put aside, for the moment, that J.P. Morgan eventually absorbed Westinghouse and took over the power plant project. The point is that Tesla was a visionary with ideas that changed the world and provided safe electrical power to an entire planet and that he was not given appropriate recognition by his original employer, Thomas Edison.

Who knows what would have transpired if Edison empowered Tesla instead of taking credit for his discoveries and insights … humankind could be 50-years further along in technology … who knows?

A great leader does not covet the accolades due his followers. A Princely leader spreads the wealth of recognition and acknowledgement like fertilizer. Those who follow us (and whom we serve), will perform acts of great and unprecedented growth and productivity, if we just allow them to share in the sunlight.

10 Major causes of failure in leadership:

#5: LACK OF IMAGINATION: Without imagination, leaders are incapable of meeting emergencies, and of creating plans by which to guide followers efficiently. (by Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich”)

Imagination is the spark which ignites endeavors that change the world. Imagination coupled with courage generates boldness. Bold enterprise questions the establishment and plots a course to new and unexplored solutions to problems, be it in business or social revolution. Think of the American founding fathers. To create a Continental Congress at the risk of their own lives for the purpose of exploring the wisdom and righteousness of throwing off British rule, and then to follow up this bold act by creating documents which would map out plans for future generations of followers. To execute on this revolutionary plan was an act of immense imagination and collaboration. We often focus on the fight after the birthing of the imaginative solution, but it was the imaginative drafting and courageous signing of the Declaration of Independence and thereafter the Bill of Rights which established the plan around which all other decisions would revolve for many generations. It was this imagination which made possible the fertile environment of the free enterprise and free market economic systems that makes America possibly the best place on the planet to generate yet more entrepreneurial ideas and launch them. Imagination is an act of courage.

Imagination creates great leaders by inspiring faith in followers. That is why Alexander the Great once said: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep, I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

Imagination empowers the Princely leader to make bold moves, which enable tremendous forward movement towards goals

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.