Good leaders attract and develop more leaders, not-so-good leaders simply attract more followers. If you are leading well, you are developing and releasing new leaders, not controlling them. Dan Rockwell shares some excellent insights on “Puppet Leadership.”

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


 Eliminate, “I’m letting people lead,” from your vocabulary. “I’m letting people lead,” means they aren’t really leading, you are.

“Letting people lead,” suggests you hold the strings. As long as you control others, you lead. They’re puppets.

Puppets don’t lead.

Old language:

Language is never just semantics.

“Let” language reeks of arrogance. Oh my! It’s so big of you to “let” others lead.

“Let” may mean authorize or grant the right to. But, typically, in leadership circles, letting others lead means allow.

Others won’t own what you allow.

New language:

I’m learning to be led by others. A leader of leaders learns to be led by others. If you’re always the leader, others aren’t leading.

I’m learning to enable and liberate those who aspire to lead.

I’m giving authority away.

We’re choosing a path forward and leading together. It’s “we” not “me.”

I’m defining my role as a partner, not a parent. Read Peter Block’s book, Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest.

7 indications others are leading:

1.  You’re excited, not offended, when your ideas are challenged. Constructive dissent is normal, expected, and honored.

2.  People improve without your involvement.

3.  Changes are made without your permission.

4.  People don’t fear making responsible mistakes.

5.  You feel left out.

6.  Accountability flows both ways.

7.  People control themselves. Accountability is more about transparency of process and responsibility for results, not being pressured from the outside.

5 ways to liberate leaders in your organization:

1.  Developing leaders is the greatest opportunity of leadership. It’s also the most challenging.

2.  Develop shared vision for leadership as partnership in your organization.

3.  Discuss the process of transferring authority.

4.  Create clear responsibilities and accountability.

5.  Exercise brutal transparency with kindness.

Practice forward-facing curiosity.

What prevents experienced leaders from liberating new leaders in their organizations?

How might leaders develop leaders without being puppet masters?