Invest in Success

In many ways, leading is like parenting. Of course all parents want their children to be successful—but the key to success is learning to fail well. You would never have learned to ride a bike if your parents hadn’t allowed you to take off your training wheels and scrape your knees a few times. We don’t improve by always doing everything right every time. We improve when we are allowed to learn from our mistakes.

Effective leaders act as investors rather than micromanagers. They provide the tools and resources that their employees require; in return, they expect to see results. Even when the stakes are high, investor leaders avoid jumping in to take control of the reins, instead allowing their people to solve problems on their own.

Investor leaders engage in the following practices:

  • They define ownership

Instead of dividing up tasks, investor leaders encourage each team member to assume responsibility for the whole. As Liz Wiseman says in her book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, “When people are given ownership for only a piece of something larger, they tend to optimize the portion, limiting their thinking to this immediate domain. When people are given ownership for the whole, they stretch their thinking and challenge themselves to go beyond their scope.”

  • They invest resources

Leaders need to do more than tell others what to do; they need to coach and teach. The best leaders are also great teachers. You may be familiar with the following quote from William Arthur Ward: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The same is true for leaders. Great leaders invest their time and energy in the people around them and make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs well. They encourage their employees to ask questions, experiment, and learn from their mistakes.

  • They hold people accountable (including themselves)

Good leaders stay engaged without taking control. They allow others to be accountable for their successes and failures, in addition to being accountable for their own. As a result, they develop mutual respect with their employees.

Are you an investor leader, or are you preventing your employees from taking ownership? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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