Keith Fowler

Great Leaders that made it on their own..or did they?

In the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Andrew Carnegie attributed his entire fortune to the power generated through his mastermind group, saying that: ‘great power can be accumulated through no other principle!’

And yet with this said, so many leaders try to succeed by ‘going it alone.’

Martin Hall, Head of Marketing at Honda Motor Europe, put it like this:

“The single biggest area where managers can go wrong is thinking that it is their sole responsibility to come up with a solution.”

It’s almost as if we leaders fear asking for help. And apparently, we are. Many of us fear that asking for help is a sign of weakness; so many in fact that this is widely regarded as the number one reason not to ask for help or collaboration.

This fear of appearing weak – especially to your team – probably explains why leaders, if they do seek advice; often look towards their own boss or mentor for direction. This is not to say that such mentorship is not valuable, far from it, but rather to point out that so many leaders miss the greatest resource of all available to them: their team.

The trouble with always being at the front is that you can end up with a tendency to ‘drag’ your team along behind you. And the upshot of keeping all the problem solving to yourself is that your teams lose passion, momentum and productivity as they become less engaged.

Not many people can put up with always being a passenger, and certainly not a blindfolded one at that (at least not the kind of people that you are likely to want on your team!). From time to time, everybody needs to feel in control.

Great leaders know how to select the destination and plot the fastest route into the GPS. They can drive if they need to, but they also know that everyone will get to the destination a lot quicker if driving duties are shared amongst the team.

Of course, there are always obstacles to contend with – the odd traffic jam, and your team might opt for a GPS suggested detour, or perhaps someone knows a secret shortcut. In the end, though, you might arrive at your destination a little quicker, or a little slower, but crucially; your team gets there together and feeling in control – ready to take on the next challenge.

Leaders who have always acted to get their team involved understand the power of co-operation and the benefits of a forward thinking, obstacle overcoming team. It is this successful leader who is more likely to see the value in moving towards a Network Leadership model, where shared accountability to a common vision combined with modern communication technology allows organisations to rethink the top down leadership approach.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned the Mastermind Principle. Andrew Carnegie’s mastermind was 50 people strong. Think about your team now, what more can you do to leverage their abilities?

Forget for a minute that you are the boss, the mastermind principle works best amongst equals, and to get the full power of mastermind from your team, you will need to see yourself and your team working together, and at the same level. With this attitude, you will get a greater buy in from your team.

No great leader has ever made it on their own.

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