Good leadership always makes a difference; unfortunately, so does bad leadership. This leadership truth continues as we will be talking about law 20 of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
“To add growth, lead followers; to multiply growth, lead leaders.” —John Maxwell
Multiply Your Growth
Referencing my past articles on the prior 19 laws, do you remember the difference between a manager and a leader? A manager does what’s right, a leader does the right thing. There is a corollary with the above quote and the manager/leader discussion in that they are both about taking your leadership to the next level. Another recurring theme across the leadership laws is the concept that developing leadership skills in those you lead is the fastest way to improve your leadership skills.
A leader must have followers, of course, but an important exercise is to consider who makes up that group of followers in the context of Figure 1. Followers who are content on being followers will yield a modest return to the company, but only add value to the company one person at a time. They are typically not “impact players,” but leaders don’t need an entire team of impact players, only a strategic few.
On the other hand, followers who are leaders themselves and willing to follow your lead multiply the value added to the company, creating the opportunity for explosive growth. When looking at your team, consider what your followers bring to the proverbial table. When a follower comes to the table, he or she only brings themself. But when a leader comes to the table, the leader brings his or herself as well their followers.
Explosive growth is driven by leaders, not followers.
A Different Mindset
Leaders who develop other leaders require a different mindset than leaders who only develop followers. So, how then to multiply our growth and not just add to it? Maxwell gives us a hint when he says, “Becoming a leader who develops leaders requires an entirely different focus and attitude from simply attracting and leading followers. It takes a different mindset.”
Leaders who develop leaders desire to be succeeded and embrace the success of their followers. In other words, the greatest compliment this type of leader can receive is to see their work continue on through others. Not everyone is leadership material, and many are perfectly content to remain a follower. Leaders who develop other leaders use the 80/20 rule: They are intentional in their focus on developing the top 20% of their followers to become leaders themselves. The leaders who only develop followers do the exact opposite. What follows is a list of attributes of these two types of leaders.
Leaders Who Develop Followers
- Need to be needed
- Focus on weaknesses
- Develop the bottom 20%
- Treat their people the same for “fairness”
- Hoard power; insecure about transferring knowledge
- Grow by quantity
- Spend time with others
- Grow by addition
- Impact only people they touch personally
Leaders Who Develop Leaders
- Want to be succeeded
- Focus on strengths
- Develop the top 20%
- Treat their leaders as individuals for impact
- Give power away
- Grow by quality
- Invest time in others
- Grow by multiplication
- Impact people far beyond their own reach
Here are some other distinguishing factors about leaders who develop leaders: They intentionally focus on the top 20% (who represent 80% of the team’s leadership potential) of their followers by building on these followers’ strengths and not dwelling on their weaknesses. These leaders don’t believe in treating everyone the same, because they are not. This is reinforced through creation of a results-based method of providing greater opportunities for those who rise to the top. In addition, they recognize the long-term benefits of making a time investment in developing other leaders that will contribute to explosive growth. This law parallels The Law of the Lid in that your leadership level will only rise to the level of your development of other leaders under you.
Follow these guidelines and The Law of Explosive Growth and you will truly be surprised at the results. Focus on enhancing your leadership skills to lead by example and the results will be epic.
This column originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of PCB007 Magazine.