Creating Self-Sufficient Teams: The Invisible Leadership Paradigm

The Ultimate Aim of Leadership: Self-Sufficient Teams

Every leader should strive to get his or her team to the point where they feel self-sufficient and like they can complete tasks on their own.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

When you accomplish this, the team feels ready to take responsibility and lead itself, and you have created a winning culture where the team strives for its own success and growth. At this point, you can start looking for new initiatives or challenges that will push the team even further.

The Role of a Leader: Fostering Independence, Not Taking Credit

You cannot achieve this if you always look to take credit or share in the credit of the team, they really need to feel and believe that they did it themselves, that you have liberated them and that they can independently be successful.

This is tough to do because we all seek reward and recognition for a good job done, but as leaders, we need to get comfortable with reflected glory. We need to let the team take the glory for the completion of the task, and then we take whatever credit there is for putting the team together.

Often this credit is left unsaid, it’s known, but it’s less visible. This is why, some leaders and managers, want to share in the glory of the completed task.

The Soccer Analogy: Managers and Players in the Glory of Victory

It’s the team on the field who share in the glory of winning the game, winning the cup final. They are the ones who played the game, get presented with the trophy and then get to do a lap of honour in front of the crowd.

There is always a strong temptation for the manager to get involved, and try and be part of this, but this should be left just for the players.

The manager (Leader) will get his credit, he did select the team, organise the tactics and made the changes that might have been instrumental in winning the game, but he wasn’t on the field and didn’t kick a ball.

We will also get more respect from our teams if we leave them to take the credit.

I know how hard it is not to join in, and I don’t want to say I have never done it, we all get caught up in the euphoria, but we will do a much better job if we actually stand and cheer with the rest of the crowd and leave this moment of glory to the players.

Cultivating Belief and Confidence within Teams

We need to create belief because we might not always be there, and in these moments if the team feel that they can’t be successful without us it will hinder their chances later.

Just take a look at Manchester United, the exact same players are playing much differently under a new manager, their results and performance are at a lower level than last year. How much is this due to their belief in the contribution of Alex Ferguson to their success? Remember he never kicked a ball.

I am not suggesting that Ferguson took credit, but I do suspect that the players believe they were a better team when he was the manager and it’s this missing belief which is causing them problems now.

Creating a Lasting Legacy: The True Mark of Successful Leadership

Our ultimate goal is for us to create teams which eventually perform at the same high level, whether we are there leading them or not.

The best way to do this is to leave all credit with the team and feed their self-belief.

Tough I know, but it’s also in our best interest, the more invisible we become the higher our teams will perform and the bigger the legacy we can leave.

If you want to learn more about creating highly engaged teams or being a better leader click the link to view our course.