8 August 2019

How to create incredible leaders - Lawrence Jones MBE walking in the mountains with dog Indie

Walking in the mountains with dog Indie – holding up the back of the pack on a Snowdon trip.

Being a great leader is about listening and making positive decisions to amplify the success of the people you are leading. In its simplest terms, the job of a leader is to grow more leaders.

That’s the root of it; to spot people with talent and give them the opportunities to develop.

I am a huge believer in developing people within the business to become those leaders of the future. Your existing teammates understand your culture and ethos. They are trusted and respected by the team already, they have relationships and a foundation within the business.

When you bring someone in externally at a senior level, they bring their own ideas of what a business’s culture should be. No matter how rigorous your recruitment process and how well you get to know them, you will never know them as well as someone you have already been working with.

So how do you know that someone is ready to be a leader?

Everyone is going to develop and grow, but some will develop faster, be hungrier and try harder than others. Over the years, I have learned that the best way to get to know who your future leaders are, is to get them out of their comfort zone, out of the office. Going to the pub isn’t enough.

We go to the Welsh mountains, to climb Snowdon, whatever the weather. Here you see people’s true personalities and you get an understanding of their long-term capabilities. It could be that they give their teammate a much-needed hug, or carry someone’s bag for them. They may be the person cracking jokes about themselves to make the others who are struggling feel better. The future extraordinary leaders are the ones who support others above all else. It is almost a natural, innate quality. I call it the ‘caring gene’.

Leaders: Team vs ego

Once you recognise who thosepeople are, your role becomes that of mentor and coaching. Growing leaders isn’t about micromanaging. I have been there and I have made the mistakes; micromanaging only exhausts you and the person you are managing. Instead, help them to make their own decisions and to understand the businesses’ overarching goals. You should only need to step in if they are really going off course.

A leader’s job is to boost the confidence of their team and that comes from feedback. Say thank you for a job well done or a good effort. Talk through the inevitable mistakes and mishaps. It isn’t easy to step back and empower others to do your job, especially if they are not doing it in the way that you would. However, they might have an even better way of doing it! You’ll never know if you don’t give them the chance to try.

I am continually learning how to be a great leader and how to build great leaders, there is no simple rulebook. However, I do know that the very best leaders are the ones who put their teams first and their own egos last.

I’d love to hear the leadership lessons that you have learned along the way. Share them in the comments below.

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