Great Leadership Starts with a Selfless Leader
As is the unfortunate reality in today’s corporate environment, “leadership” is too often confused with “he or she who makes the most money.” Nothing can be further from the truth. Authentic leadership does not equate with dollars and cents (although a good leader can, by one’s mastery of the requisite skills, generate prosperity across the organization).
To be successful, the person atop an organization must realize that a true leader is an equal part of the business—no more, no less—and truly cherishes and respects the contributions made by others. It is, however, the leader’s responsibility to dream big and have the communication skills required to share that vision with others who can, in turn, apply their skills to bring the vision to life.
Yet, a bold vision and skilled articulation are just at the tip of the spear to grow a successful purpose-driven company (i.e., the cause). One tasked with spearheading a company should be judged by how impactful she or he can be in furthering “the cause.” To be truly impactful, the leader must mentor and nourish other leaders.
Other key elements must be in place to lay the strong foundation necessary on which to build an organization of distinction:
- A leader that is ready
- Students that are ready
- An organization that is ready
Qualities of a Leader That is Ready
An adroit leader is a giver who recognizes and cultivates leadership qualities in others, is secure enough in themselves not to be threatened by the success of emerging leaders within the organization and is someone who rejoices in the triumphs of others. A wise and steady leader demonstrates unwavering faith in the future leaders and allows them the time and protection necessary to make the mistakes from which all leaders learn and grow.
Consider for a second a senior surgeon overseeing a junior surgeon during their first few procedures together. Imagine if that senior surgeon anxiously hovered over and distrusted the junior’s every decision. That developing surgeon might internalize this distrust and become fearful. Failure to trust and to step back could forever alter the trajectory of this potentially brilliant future surgeon before they ever had a fair chance at mastery.
Yet, at the same time, a true leader takes the responsibility of weeding out unsafe potential leaders, as well as unsafe potential surgeons, as seriously as that of nourishing and promoting the ones in which the leader sees potential. It is a harsh but sacred duty of a leader to protect all from unsafe prospective leaders.
Qualities of a Student That is Ready
A promising future leader must be humble and selflessly contribute to the growth of others in the organization. They must be willing and able to give credit to others whenever and wherever it is due and secure enough to allow others to shine. Often these qualities are innate, and it is the responsibility of the present leadership to recognize and cultivate these traits in fledging leadership.
An ambitious student must also be coachable, open to asking for feedback, and amenable to putting that feedback into positive action. They should take responsibility for themselves and their decisions and possess the skills to communicate across all levels of the organization effectively.
Qualities of an Organization That is Ready
A fertile organization has the systems in place for the next generation to take root, thrive, and grow the company. These structures include a culture of trust, methods to identify and nurture talent, guiding principles that support emerging leaders, and the will to protect them when mistakes are made. When an organization is grounded in these principles, current leadership, and its emerging leaders, are permitted to be bold, free to think big, and inspired to revolutionize their chosen industry.
Problem-Solving and the Selfless Leader
The quality shared amongst all successful leaders, students and organizations alike, is the relentless drive to solve problems. Whether on a micro-level between individuals, macro-level between systems, or the ultimate goal to solve the customer’s problems, a great leader problem-solves by selflessly enabling and empowering the capabilities of others over seeking personal recognition for oneself.
Sanjiv Lakhanpal, MD, FACS, is President & CEO of Center for Vein Restoration, the largest physician-led provider for the treatment of symptomatic venous insufficiency in the United States.