If you want your employees to take the lead, you need to create a culture where leaders groom leaders.
Where people step up is when there is room to move up. To ensure that your organization is filled with leaders of leaders, you have to be the leader who not only encourages it but paves the way.
Here are 11 ways you can encourage your employees to take the lead:
1. Set the example. To cultivate new leaders, you have to lead by example. Your habits and actions will set the standard for others and show others how it's done.
2. Recognize their strengths. Don't do anything on your own if it can be prevented, but recognize your employees' strengths and allow them to participate as much as they can. Don't take their talents for granted. Make it a point to talk individually with each member of your team to discuss their interests, strengths and skills and encourage them to take charge.
3. Let others make important decisions. When you allow your employees to make important decisions, you are encouraging them to lead. When they are empowered to make decisions that matter and can affect the organization, they see themselves as leaders.
4. Give them more responsibility. When you give an employee more responsibility you are expressing faith in their abilities. The moment they take on more responsibility is the moment they can say, "Yes, I am stepping up." To cultivate more leaders, give them more to be accountable for--and let them know the price of influence is responsibility.
5. Don't impose fear. If you want to encourage more people to step up into their leadership, you have to lead without imposing fear. Great leaders inspire. Surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives, and establish a culture where they can disagree with you without fear.
6. Help them plan their future. To empower your employees, help them plan for the future. Get them to take responsibility for their own career opportunities through special assignments and special projects that take them down their chosen path.
7. Trust them. Trust is the glue that binds people together. To engage your people to lead begins by giving trust, and the only way to do that is to overcome the need to be in constant control. Ground your own leadership in trust and you set the example for those who come after to do likewise.
8. Help them grow. Don't wait for prospective leaders to come to you--instead, you should approach them. Let them know what talent and qualities you see in them, and help them see how they can utilize their gifts for growth. The best way to engage more leaders is to show appreciation for who they are and help them stretch themselves. Show that you believe in them and give them opportunities to prove you right.
9. Push their limits. Sometimes people need a little push on their limits to avoid becoming stagnant. Without encouragement to stretch, people tend to stay in their comfort zone. It's your job to induce them into the kind of discomfort that produces growth.
10. Respect them. People tend to step up to the plate when you show them respect. If you want to empower your people to lead, you must respect them for who they are.
The best leaders, go out of their way to boost their employees' self-esteem. As John Maxwell stated, when people respect you as a person, they admire you; when they respect you as a friend, they love you; when they respect you as a leader, they follow you.
11. Praise and appreciate them. if the actions of your employee inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, they are your leaders. Appreciate them for who they are and praise them for their leadership. Let them know how much their influence and inspiration mean to you and how they influence others.
Helping to create new leaders is the ultimate expression of your own leadership. And it's a legacy you can start building today.