A strong leadership forms the base of a successful organization. Research has shown that an organization with a strong leadership fare at least 13 times better in areas such as customer satisfaction, product quality, and profit. An organization needs to develop strong leadership to leave a legacy with its employees and its customers. Moreover, the leadership has to ensure that they have a strong legacy that carries the organization towards success.

The Leader’s Greatest Return (2020) by John C Maxwell is a leadership guide for organizations to be able to build a formidable leadership legacy. It highlights how existing leaders can identify the potential for leadership and help cultivate it. Moreover, it is a guide that helps leaders create a culture within the organization where leaders never stop developing!

The Power Of Many

While organizations should have a strong key leader in charge, it is essential for the leader to be able to develop leadership qualities in the team as well. In the words of the management guru Peter Drucker, “No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were strong and effective.”

It is impossible for just one person to be in charge of everything that happens in the organization. Additionally, it is also difficult for one leader to be able to solve every problem and execute each and every idea. Thus it is necessary for a leader to be able to delegate the work to others who have potential, which is possible only if the leader builds a strong network of capable leaders.

Developing a strong network of leaders in an organization adds new perspectives, insights and adds momentum to the growth of an organization.

Hiring For Leadership

Leaders in an organization should understand that finding potential leaders is a task that begins right at the starting point. During recruitment! 

It is essential for leaders to be able to identify the right fit for leadership within the organization, and for that very reason, hiring managers/leaders should be able to identify leadership qualities within an individual at the beginning itself. They should look for individuals with the skills that sync with the goals of the organization and who have a passion to grow.  

Training one’s team to hire the right fit firstly gives a leader a pool of potential leaders to choose from. Leaders should look for people within this pool who have a knack for taking charge and influencing others in the team to follow. Most importantly, leaders should choose to mentor those who show the willingness to persevere in the face of hardship and defeat.

The Leader’s Greatest Return by John C Maxwell

Motivation And Developing Habits

It is important for leaders to keep their team motivated to perform. Similarly, it is also an important task for leaders to be able to keep aspiring leaders in the team invested enough to reach their goals. They need to be motivated and need the power of good habit development to succeed.

Each person finds motivation in different things in life. Maxwell identified seven common motivations amongst people. He found that most commonly, people are motivated by – 

  • A sense of purpose
  • A need for autonomy
  • The promise of forming relationships
  • Personal and professional growth
  • The desire to master a skill
  • The need for recognition
  • The promise of financial reward

To motivate potential leaders, these seven motivators can be used effectively. Most people have more than one motivating factor and that gives leaders the flexibility to give their potential leaders what they desire most.

It is found that motivating factors, especially those that involve tangible benefits, do not continue to motivate or inspire people in the long run. Therefore, it is essential that leaders inculcate good habit formation into their leaders-to-be. Leaders need to show them in these times, that they believe in them, encourage and train them to do the right things by setting examples. Consistent belief, encouragement, and leading by example will lead to consistency in the improvement and thus, lead to habit formation.

Learning And Connecting With Established Leaders

Another important responsibility that a leader has towards creating a legacy of leadership in the organization is to ensure they give would-be-leaders plenty of learning opportunities, as well as opportunities for them to create connections with established leaders and in turn, learn from them.

Learning opportunities and connection development are extremely beneficial not only to the individual but to the organization as a whole. Maxwell describes this as creating a leadership table. A table wherein leaders learn from each other’s triumphs and most importantly failures and exchange important tit-bits that help them all improve their respective leadership skills. 

Such gatherings are excellent sources of learning for developing leaders as well as excellent sources for potential leaders to benefit from the power of proximity. Leaders-in-training learn to emulate their mentors. Moreover, they find a platform to experience new ways of thinking. They learn to approach problems like leaders and to strategize and apply business tactics like the leaders that influence them. Moreover, they will learn to form valuable connections that will propel them towards success.

Direction, Freedom And The Tools To Succeed

Practical experience in life trumps instructions. Research has shown that learning takes place in the form of the 70/20/10 model. It showed that amongst about 200 learners in the study, 70% of the learning took place during the practical, hands-on experience, whereas, 20 percent took place during coaching and feedback sessions. Only 10% of the learning took place during training.

This proves that gaining practical experience leads to perfecting the job at hand. However, without a proper direction, leaders-in-training will never grow but merely move from one task to another.

Thus, leaders have to create goals and set them on the path to success. The goals that are set should be challenging and make them think beyond their abilities, yet, they shouldn’t be so distant. Additionally, goals should be measurable and clearly stated, so that they can firstly, be put in writing, and secondly, leaders should be able to clearly determine whether they have been met or not.

In addition to direction, goal setting, and monitoring, budding leaders also need freedom and encouragement. The role of a leader isn’t only to be a figure of authority and invigilation, but also to provide encouragement and assistance when they seem to be holding back due to the fear of failure.

Empowerment And Environment

What is the point if a thoroughbred horse that is trained well is never put in a race? Budding leaders are similar to thoroughbred horses. They need to be empowered to be able to use their learnings and skills. For this, leaders should create a supportive environment.

As an already established leader, the influence and success as a leader give one the ability to exercise control. However, to truly help create empowerment for leaders-in-training, established leaders should be able to let go of this control for a bit. It essentially relates to leaving the spotlight to make room for the new talent.

Along with empowering them, a leader’s responsibility also entails creating an environment that is conducive for growth, that encourages budding leaders to share innovative ideas and take initiative, and that encourages collaboration within departments and people. Leaders should enable people to take ownership of tasks, make them accountable for them, and subsequently reward them for good performance. Such a work culture builds a truly empowering workplace.

Diverse Leadership Teams

Like we discussed earlier, there is more power in many than one. Therefore it is essential that new leaders build leadership teams that function towards a common goal. A leader, who is developing new leaders in the organization, should ensure that the new leadership team comprises of people who have already demonstrated leadership skills. This ensures that the team can gel well and begin working together immediately.

Additionally, as a leader and mentor, one has to be very clear and cognizant of what each member of the new team brings to the table. Everyone on the team should also be aware of each other’s strengths. It is the duty of the leader mentor to delegate roles as per their strengths. Additionally, each member should be given enough time to adjust to his or her new roles.

Finally, leaders should ensure that the new leaders’ personal values are aligned with the values, mission, and vision of the organization. Leaders should communicate and reinforce the values of the organization regularly. Additionally, they should help the new leaders connect their personal values and goals with those of the organization. This ensures that the team, while having diversity, will be on the same page, working towards the goal effectively.

Passing On The Baton

A leader is said to have finally arrived when the leader he or she has mentored passes on the legacy of leadership to new, young, and potential talent. Without passing on the baton, an organization can never really win the race.

The idea here is for leaders to be able to create a veritable line-up of leaders. Think of a football team that has a stellar line-up and a strong reserve as well. It ensures consistent and strong performance, making the team sustainable.

To be able to achieve this, mentorship should be part of the culture. New leaders should be encouraged to mentor others. They should be shown the ways to handle the reins of mentorship and help others succeed. Teaching and learning should become the natural cycle of leadership in the organization, leading to growth.

Such a natural cycle of leadership allows people to make time and space for personal growth as well. As a leader, one can be assured of a successful growing leadership when they see the people they have mentored, make way for new talent, mentor others for success, and work towards advancement in the organization.


Finding good leaders can be a challenge. However, creating a work culture wherein leadership building becomes a natural process can enable organizations and leaders to develop more leaders at every level. Empowering others to join the leadership bandwagon and encouraging them to pass on the knowledge is a leader’s greatest return.