Being a Great Leader Means Not Doing it Alone

by / ⠀Startup Advice / November 17, 2010

No one does anything worthwhile entirely by themselves. As a leader, your job is to get results through others. You treasure your team as if they were volunteers — because they are! Even if you pay them, your best people are free agents who could do anything anywhere else. Your team doesn’t have to work for you. So, the Big Question is,  Why should they be working for you? Make it your business to hold yourself accountable to answering that question every day.

Since every person is different in some way, often in many ways, the very best leaders are those who have the greatest flexibility in their styles of working with other people.  Your ability to get the very best out of the people who report to you is a key measure of your effectiveness as a leader. “I know it’s politically incorrect to say this, but when it comes to managing people, you actually do have to discriminate,” said 49er hall of famer and entrepreneur Steve Young.

“No two people respond the same way to your call to action. You to encourage some people very gently, while others you have to scream at.” When you take the time to think about whom you are working with and what it is you need for them to do, you are more likely to use the best tools, techniques and methods to maximize the performance and productivity of the other person.

And as you commit yourself to action, you’re developing the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people.

You want a team that:

1) Owns the outcomes — has skin in the game — a vested interest in thinking, analyzing and delivering better results than ever before;

2) Builds confidence in others — and isn’t meek accepting or doing the job, but is turned on by the opportunity to prove something or have greater impact;

3) Understands what’s in it for them in everything they’re asked to do;

4) Demonstrates full engagement, and needs to have a voice and to be heard; and

5) Gets paid more, but is worth more, and has more options open and more untapped potential than ever before.

It’s often said that the very best leaders are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Great leaders elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people. The purpose of a business or an organization is to maximize strengths and make weaknesses irrelevant. Your ability to bring together a group of people and form them into a high performance team is the most important single quality you can develop for maximum results and continuous personal and professional growth.

But here’s an important caveat. “You might have to tell people to suck the egg,” said Major General Gale Pollock (ret), the first woman to serve as Surgeon General of the Army. “You don’t have to tell them how! If you order people to do something that they don’t understand, they won’t give it all they’ve got.”

“The greatest performances and courage come when you show them why it matters,” she told me shortly after her retirement from the U.S. Army. “I’ve been amazed at how people will solve problems when you set the general direction but let them use their creativity to get it done — often much better than I would have ever imagined.”

Mark Thompson, author of Now, Build a Great Business!: 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits in Any Market, and coauthor of the bestseller Success Built to Last, is a serial entrepreneur who sold his last company for $100 million and today coaches executives on how to lead growth companies. He is a venture investor who Forbes noted for having the “Midas touch:’.

Brian Tracy, author of Now, Build a Great Business!: 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits in Any Market, is one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness. In addition to being a remarkably successful entrepreneur, he is a dynamic and inspiring speaker, addressing thousands of people each year in companies such as IBM, Ford, Federal Express, Hewlett Packard, Pepsi, Northwestern Mutual, and hundreds of others worldwide.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.