Tough love is, and always will be, the most effective means of developing leadership qualities in another person. True leaders strive to transform sheep into wolves, not better sheep. Metamorphosis is the goal, not management. The problem is that far too many bosses, managers, coaches and mentors put all of their efforts into keeping their protégés dependent on them. Instead of inspiring you to action, they want to control your actions. Instead of showing you how to help yourself, they want to keep you helpless. This unhealthy dynamic is also very common in personal relationships.
False leaders keep other people dependent on them for two reasons.
First, they are terrified that your influence will surpass their influence. Little people cannot stomach the idea of developing others beyond their own greatness.
Second, false leaders are afraid of conflict. Most people would rather hold someone’s hand and comfort him as an unconditional friend than be frank and set him straight. Saying a few nice words is easier than shaking things up. True leaders do not want to limit other people’s influence. And true leaders do not want other people’s enjoyment to depend on how much they are enjoying life. They are willing to be tough and tell you exactly what you need to do to reposition yourself for personal and professional success. They are willing to be tough, but fair.
A true leader works to make himself replaceable. At least in the eyes of his protégé. As mentor, your goal should be to create leaders, not followers. There are five keys to doing this.
First, you must paint a crystal clear picture of what you want, then disappear. The average manager creates a pencil sketch of what she wants done, bombards her employees with an onslaught of minute tasks, and confines the means by which they are allowed to accomplish each one. Instead, show your subordinates exactly what success looks like. Create a vivid picture that will inspire and focus them. Then vanish. Don’t micromanage and don’t handhold.
Second, you have to stop fearing other people’s strengths. Holding other people back takes more work than pushing both them and yourself forward. Moreover, being in a leadership position and using your influence to limit other people’s success is pure evil. Stop being afraid. A leader’s legacy is defined by the victories of her protégés.
Third, you need to resist the pull of destructive emotions. Your goal is to be as hardhearted as possible against negative and weak feelings, while supporting and amplifying positive, strong feelings. If your subordinate breaks mentally and gives up, whines, or cries – ignore it. Likewise, if they get heated or resentful – do nothing. Do not take it personally. Battle the urge to respond to destructive emotions. Allowing someone to cry on your shoulder or firing back an angry insult is soft and selfish. Instead, help other people channel their frustrations into being productive and becoming more self-reliant.
The fourth key to turning people into strong leaders is to inspire them, not threaten them. Being tough but fair is a delicate art. It’s like walking a tightrope strung across someone else’s soul. Every step you take on the rope sharpens him, but if you fall, you crush his spirit completely. Use inspiration as your balance bar. Be tough, but be encouraging.
Finally, The fifth key to creating leaders and not followers is to tell them exactly what you’re doing. Don’t keep the fact that you are developing people a secret. There’s a big difference between being a hard-ass and just being an ass. You can have zero tolerance for failure and excuses, and connect with and care about someone at the same time. Communication bridges the gap between tough and love. Explain why you are being harsh and how it is going to help. Impart everything you have to offer so that you are no longer needed. That is the goal of a true leader