With the unfortunate passing away of Stephen Covey, the author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I began to reflect on what I consider to be top leadership insights.
And the one that stands out is "helping others succeed".
Of course, this is within the confines of the organisational vision. Otherwise, one could become a renegade leader.
Focusing on helping others succeed (inline with the organisational vision), by nature contributes to organisational success and the "hard" leadership key performance indicators as this is one of the drivers of leader and organisational achievement. This by itself should persuade every leader to think "others' success" first. Yours as the leader will come when theirs is present.
It is tempting when we think of helping others to succeed, to focus unidirectionally on your direct reports. But this point has a broader audience including the boss, peers, employees and even the customers. It is the leader's responsibility to be a communal success junkie. In every action, conversation and thought, leaders need to be obsessed with how the others will succeed.
Here are a few thoughts on how leaders can help others succeed.
While it may seem obvious, the first action is to believe in their likelihood of success. When a leader does not believe someone can succeed it is highly likely he will not put his heart or effort into helping them. To get the best from people, leaders need to see the best in them.
Success is highly reliant on knowing what to do. Leaders who help others succeed are masters at making the direction clear. They are the ones who know the way, show the way and go all the way. Depending on the seniority of the role, this may come in the form of an inspirational vision or all the way down to tactical execution clarity.
Success is a collective effort or, you could say, team effort. The teams may be directly connected as in a boss and direct reports or indirectly such as a leader and peers, or even an organisation and customer. No matter what form the collaboration takes, helping others to succeed will come via encouraging collective success.
Unquestionably, an act of helping others to succeed is encouraging their growth. Repeatedly in interviews I've conducted, leaders recognise their best boss as the one who helped them to get better by building their skill, behaviour and knowledge. Leaders need to help those who are doing OK to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.
The final point in helping others get better is to motivate them to take action and to find the best within themselves. When motivation levels (internal and external) are low, it unhealthily calibrates success outcomes and the reverse is true when motivation is high - success comes. Energising leadership arouses people to take action towards achieving their goal.
Sceptics may be concerned helping others succeed could impede their own success. The point of helping others is built upon the greater success that can come through collaborative efforts and improving capacity. Limitations in thinking about others' success are a warning sign for the leader's own success.
Since employees are a reflection of their leader, then a leader's success is a mirror of them.
Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth & emerging market leadership, adviser and author of The CEO Shift is the founder and managing director of the Emerging Markets Leadership Centre.