What’s the Number One Responsibility of a Leader? (mini-podcast)

Welcome to the next installment of the Leadership Vision Podcast where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of CliftonStrengths.

We’re experimenting with a new show format called “Quick Questions with Brian!” At least that’s the working title. The idea is to ask our founder and CEO, Brian Schubring, one quick question about leadership, and get his best quick answer. Brian has 30+ years of experience not only coaching and consulting with all levels of high-impact leaders but also a plethora of experience of his own as a business owner and leader in a variety of capacities and in numerous contexts.

If you have a question about leadership you’d like Brian to answer or if you’d just like to give us some feedback on this occasional format (don’t worry, this isn’t replacing the longer format focusing on Strengths and teams) contact us!

What is the Role of a Leader?

Below is the transcript of the conversation* between Brian and I. This episode is short, but it packs a punch! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Brian: I think that the number one responsibility of the leader is to pay attention to the leaders that are around them. Most leaders that we work with have such an intentional focus on who they are as a leader and how they’re growing and developing. They look at the teams around them (including their direct reports) as people they just need to manage. Recently, I told a group of leaders that their number one responsibility is to nurture develop and release the provision of leaders around them. I said, “The leaders around you have more talent more experience more expertise than you do. And what if you were to see them as an untapped, unlimited resource not to get frustrated at, but to look at investing into because they can be the ones that truly propel your influence forward.” The concept of leaders who are younger than you are is a provision of your legacy of how effective you are as a leader.

Nathan: So how do you do that? How do you develop,  nurture, invest… If you could give a leader one takeaway, what is it?

Brian: A manager, a supervisor, or whatever term you want to use (a team leader or a culture shaper), whatever that word is that that individual has a professional responsibility to invest in the leaders that are coming up beneath them. Those that are younger than them that don’t have the same level of experience. How is it that you can remind that individual that they are unique that they have something to offer? How can you avail yourself to help them remove obstacles, remove barriers, and then resource them according to really help them understand how they’re put together? Not just as someone is leading in your shadow.

Nathan: Again, how do we do that? What is one thing someone could do, let’s say tomorrow, that would at least be the start on the right path to doing something like that?

Brian: Invite someone else to come alongside you. Give them some obvious responsibilities they have to fulfill and make small incremental measures on that responsibility. Check in with them. I cannot tell you how much return on that small investment you’ll receive just by that individual saying, “oh my gosh that leader of mine gave me the chance to just…fill in the blank.” Because there are some instances where a leader just has so much to do they can’t help but empower other individuals. But that can sometimes be misinterpreted as just part of the job. For an emerging leader, what I’m speaking to specifically is the leader, or the manager, or the supervisor actually sharing or handing off one of their responsibilities to someone else. I have seen leaders give that opportunity. For example, we’ll have to go into a meeting to pitch part of an objective to some senior leaders. And so it’s that emerging leader all on their own, having been coached by that supervisor on what to do, how to prepare, what research to show, and inevitably pitches to a senior leader. It’s not going to go perfectly but that supervisor knows that it’s through that experience they will learn how to get a lot of it right. And a few of the things they got wrong, those are going to sharpen that emerging leader for the next opportunity. That’s an example of a senior leader giving away a portion of their responsibility to teach an emerging leader what it’s like to be at that level. Because a lot of the stewardship of the emerging leader is helping emerging leaders understand what is truly at stake at other levels of the organization and how those people think and what expectations they have because you’re truly leading to meet the needs of that senior leader.

*conversation has been edited for clarity.

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of StrengthsFinder. Leadership Vision uses CliftonStrengths to work with People, Teams, and Culture. We believe that knowing your Top 5 Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

Please contact us if you have ANY questions about anything you heard in this episode or if you’d like to talk to us about helping your team understand the power of Strengths.