image5 Leadership principles in developing leaders.
There are specifically 5 ways we can not only recognize the strength of a leader but also understand the depth and influence they possess in their development.

A leader will establish relationships, engage followers, build a team, teach a student and mentor a leader. As a leader I am constantly measuring myself with these key indicators and my success as a leader is dependent on how I outwork these principles. Very often we feel as leaders that we have to manage the “big stuff” well. But the role of a leader is learning how to do the “small stuff” exceptionally. I base my life as a leader on the principle that “I lead in such a way that I would want to follow” in other words would I like to be under my own leadership? If I can’t answer that straight away I must make adjustments.

Here are five key elements that I live by and continually refresh my thinking towards being a better leader and mentor.

1. A leader must possess character. This is the fundamental baseline for what everything else “leadership” is built. When I talk to people about character most people switch off and go “yeah yeah of course I need to build character” but many people don’t realize that building character is what sets great leaders apart. Leaders with character do not set themselves above the people. They roll up their sleeves, they get involved and they show the way. Leaders are the models. We are the ones people look to in moments of no direction. Character is the form in which we are proven worthy for the honour of leading others.

2. Give yourself permission to be yourself. It is true that great culture requires authenticity. To be an authentic person we need great, healthy relationships. As a leader, you need a small group of friends, perhaps three to five, who give you absolute permission to be yourself at all times. If you get “off track” in some way, someone is there to let you know. This increases your ability to be self-aware and improves your comfort level with your true self. This honest and healthy feedback from your circle of friends will give you confidence to express yourself without fear when you are in less familiar territory—a place leaders know all too well.

3. Partnerships that are pure in motive. Genuine partnerships have a way of purifying leaders’ motives. To make a partnership work, leaders must set their agendas aside (not the vision, but personal agendas). Wise leaders remain open to new ways, better ways of doing things and are gracious enough to accept that things will not always go their way. If you ever want to be an enlarged leader, in other words a leader that leads leaders, you have to give up to go up. When you bring other strong leaders into your team, they will have differing opinions. But that’s why we place them alongside of us. But in that process we need to learn to listen and bring on board ideas and processes that fit with the organizational culture.

You won’t always get the credit or public attention when you participate in a partnership. But receiving credit should not be your goal. In fact, I hope your leadership develops such a strong culture of giving credit away that it becomes second nature for your team members to celebrate other leaders’ contribution over their own. This causes leadership that produces leadership. This principle is bankable. The more your give away in your leadership the more you attract.

4. Who are you mentoring? I am passionate about mentoring others. It’s the most powerful legacy you can leave. I love to mentor young people to equip them to be successful in life, but don’t forget the older generations who have life experience. They have a lot to give and are loyal, respectful and generous contributors. Good leaders teach others how to lead. It really is not about if you mentor the thousands in your lifetime. What matters is that you mentor someone. Are you investing in someone right now? I always ask myself this question before I make a plan for mentorship. Will this person lead better because of me?

5. Improve thyself! Leaders who are good at developing others make an intentional effort to keep improving personally. They keep the fire inside hot. You may have years of experience and be well beyond the level of the person you are mentoring, but eventually you will have little to offer if you stop growing as a leader. If you don’t keep the fires hot, your “leadership tank” is going to run empty. Do you reinvent yourself? Reinventing yourself is about staying out of a comfort zone. Any leader can fall into this place of comfort if he is not growing, stretching, learning, and changing. It is lethal to a leader when everything is balanced, stable, known, and in pleasant symmetry. Practical ways I keep improving and developing myself is listening to leaders who I want to be like. Surround yourself with like visions; don’t view them as competition, rather polishers. You’re a gem and the more you learn from them the more you are polished.