Leadership is not all about you, write Sucheta Nadkarni and Andreas Richter on the University of Cambridge Judge Business School blog. A strong team makes a great CEO and the most successful leaders look to others for solutions.
The traditional view of leadership paints a lonely picture of the CEO bearing the weight of responsibility on his or her shoulders alone. But a very basic rule of business is: if you can’t do something yourself, then get someone in who can.
“Leaders should not be afraid to shine a light on those around them,” Nadkarni writes. You need to recognise it’s impossible to have all the answers. Allow your employees to be an active part of your business – free to generate ideas and offer advice and guidance when required.
There’s strength in diversity. Look for people who know more than you and recruit them to your team, says Diana Verde Nieto, founder of communications consultancy Clownfish: “I think the principles of managing a football team are perfect in the office; everyone has a different strength and skill set, but is united by a common goal – the hunger to score and win.”
A great leader is “somebody willing to delegate, someone who doesn’t try to do everything themselves and is willing to let people make mistakes”, according to Sir Richard Branson, who was recently voted most-admired business leader of the past 50 years by fellow CEOs.
Don’t be afraid to give important tasks to your team. But make sure your team is ready to accept responsibility and take risks. They need to see failure as an integral part of business growth. “Innovation comes from many sources but you need to give your team the confidence to come up with ten foolish ideas,” Nadkarni writes. “Ten foolish ideas can lead to a genius solution.”
CEOs should “empower their teams according to their skills”, Richter says. Team members are more motivated to contribute if they can see what they are working towards and the results that their efforts bring. Rachel Bell, CEO of creative communications agency Shine, describes the ultimate idea of empowerment:
“The absolute pinnacle of success for me would be if I was made redundant by my senior management team.”