What separates the good leaders from the great inspirational leaders is their ability to build a leadership culture that cultivates great leaders throughout their organization.
Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, which currently has about $160 billion in assets under management, got an email from one of his client advisers. The email was sent after a meeting with an important potential client; the email stated:
Ray — you deserve a "D‑" for your performance today . . . you rambled for 50 minutes . . .It was obvious to all of us that you did not prepare at all because there is no way you could have and been that disorganized at the outset if you had prepared. We told you this prospect had been identified as a "must-win". . . today was really bad . . . we can't let this happen again.
Now picture you sending an email like that to your CEO or the founder of a company. Imagine his/her reaction. Rather than being offended, Dalio says the email exemplified the idea that he wanted his employees to speak up. Bridgewater Associates has a trademark policy of radical transparency.
Everyone at the company speaks their minds because Ray Dalio understands that leadership is much more than being in charge and managing people. "In order to be successful, we must have independent thinkers — so independent that they'll bet against the consensus," Dalio indicated. When employees become leaders, decisions are made more quickly; customers are happier, and tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money can be saved. Not only will this take some burden off your shoulders as the CEO or manager, but your employees will be happier, the gossipers will be significantly reduced, and your employees will be more engaged and effective.
In a company with a leadership culture, all employees, not just those with "VP" or "Chief" in their titles, are expected to think and act like leaders. According to Donald Hatter, if a company is genuinely concerned about creating that kind of environment, they should have a slightly different approach and a broader focus. For example, employees should spend time learning how to become more self-aware, empathetic, and motivational.
Great leaders are genuinely concerned about those they work with, which is why people want to follow them voluntarily. Every company executive should be tasked with training, mentoring, and nurturing their team on how to be future corporate executive leaders. Remember, view your employees not as who they are in their current job titles but as who they can be with your leadership training and development. Every organization needs a great leader charting the course, but you must have leaders within your company as well.
Work should be a place where you are motivated and inspired to make a difference, "there is no way you were born just to pay bills and then die." Having people who can energize and motivate others to work together to achieve common goals is essential for your team's development and overall success of your company. No company can ever have too many employees with great leadership qualities; gone are the days when leadership was associated with fancy titles or designations only. Nowadays, leadership isn't about your title; it's about one life influencing another for the greater good of the individuals they are entrusted to serve; their customers, community, and by extension, the world.