You know them. Maybe you are one of them. The one who loves to be the first to clap at the conclusion of a great song or when the speaker makes a powerful point in her presentation. Some love to lead the applause. They feel a sense of power in that they initiated an entire audience’s applause or even a standing ovation.
I love to lead the applause too! But not in the way I just described. I usually become a follower in those situations. But, I love to lead the applause in seeing next-generation leaders succeed and do well. As one who will soon be looking at my 50’s in the rear-view mirror, I’m more passionate than ever about younger leaders thriving. Especially in the organization that I founded and led for many years, there is deep satisfaction and a sense of significance that comes from seeing my successor flourish.
In their book, Transformissional Coaching, Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl write, “The great leader is not the one in the spotlight. He’s the one leading the applause” (p. 63). That’s the kind of leadership legacy I want to leave. I want to make sure the hand-off to the next generation is done so well that I can be the very first one to applaud the new victories, the new innovations, the creativity and the progress.
Level five leadership is the terminology my from-afar mentors like Jim Collins and John Maxwell use to describe the leader who builds enduring greatness in a business or organization by putting the success and future of the organization first and foremost above his or her own ambitions. To practice this level of leadership we must be intentional about mentoring and developing young leaders and finding every way possible to encourage and applaud their growth as leaders.
So let me ask you, are you mentoring anyone who is a generation behind you? Are you investing in anyone who has less knowledge or experience than you in a specific area of your expertise? If not, why not? Are you just not aware and attentive to the need for such mentoring? Or do you lack confidence and operate with a mindset of scarcity—thinking someone you invest in will take your job or step on your fingers as they climb past you on the ladder toward success? Or maybe you have another reason or excuse.
If you are developing the leaders around you, are you intentional about leading the applause for those leaders? Do you catch them doing things well and point it out to them and others? Are you finding ways to encourage them and build them up? Do you invite them into reflective feedback to empower them to see the high points and the low points of their performance? We as mentors and supervisors must lead the applause for those we are developing. A few of us might find this to be normal and natural but most of us must work hard at growing ourselves into leaders who lead the applause for others around us.
So today, who is the one person that comes to mind whom you need to look for a reason to help them celebrate a success with you leading the applause?
QUESTION: What helps you notice the things that need applauding in the people around you? Please share it below. Thanks!