How Can You Take Your Leadership Development to Another Level?

Key Takeaways

●  Traditional leadership development programs often fall short by not focusing on leadership multiplication.

●  Cultivating leaders who inspire others is key to organizational resilience and growth.

●  The ‘70% Rule‘ helps in efficient delegation and growth for emerging leaders.

●  Learning through failure is essential for the development of decision-making skills.

●  Empowering leaders with authority and celebrating their successes nurtures a culture of trust and collective strength.

What’s Missing in Traditional Leadership Development

Leadership development programs traditionally focus on improving the abilities of individual leaders. These programs are designed to help leaders with their core competencies, recognize blind spots, and become more effective at leading their teams. This is crucial to maintain leadership competence and effectiveness. However, they frequently miss a critical aspect: leadership multiplication. 

John C. Maxwell eloquently stated that multiplying leaders provides the single greatest return on investment. It’s a transformation in how we perceive leadership—from an isolated, personal pursuit to a collective, expansive effort.

This approach expands leaders’ capabilities, enabling them to lead and empower others to become leaders themselves, significantly expanding the impact of leadership development beyond the individual.

How I went from Hero to Hero Maker

True leadership is not just leading it’s also building other leaders. It transcends individual accomplishments. It’s about transitioning from being the hero to creating heroes, which fundamentally changes the definition of success and fosters a legacy of collective achievement.

I have had a successful career, building and exiting multiple 8-figure companies, partially because of the Hero Maker mindset. So, in this article, I will discuss my journey from Hero to Hero Maker and offer tips to help you adopt this mindset and position your organization to a new growth dimension.

Recognize the Need for Building Other Heroes

You cannot carry the organization on your shoulders alone. Maxwell guides us with the principle, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”. This philosophy should be the foundation that nourishes your organization. 

I recall learning this 15 years ago when I was the CEO of a tech company. My partner, Mark, and I were in a board meeting mapping out the strategy for the next phase of growth. I was mapping ideas and execution plans when he stopped me in my tracks and indicated that I was taking on too many roles, and that is going to be the bottleneck of us building a great company.

I will be honest; at first, I was defensive, putting up arguments about why. But when I put the ego aside and faced reality…I knew he was right.

This critical feedback sparked a profound transformation in not just my leadership style but also my purpose. I realized that I didn’t have to bear the burden alone. I could identify and nurture other potential leaders, supporting them in their growth and leadership development journey.

Delegate with '70% Rule'

The ‘70% Rule’ is not just a concept but a crucial tool for leadership multiplication. It provides emerging leaders with a unique opportunity to lead, allowing for a significant margin of growth and learning. This rule is about empowering individuals to lead with approximately 70% of the experience and wisdom you possess, while leaving them 30% of space to grow and develop. 

This was a massive change to our companies when I started leading our leaders in this way. It all started when I lost a really good teammate, and she was being groomed for our leadership team. During her exit interview, she said, “Vinnie, I love this company and its vision. I just feel that you lead me from where you wish I was versus leading me from where I am.” Wow! That one hit. She was right.  

From that point forward, I really worked on seeing a leader where they are in their journey of leadership development and how I can come alongside them to support them with my time, talents, and resources and get the heck out of the way for the remainder.

Of course, this leadership style has risks as it requires your leaders to fail and fail fast. But as I have learned, this is a critical step to developing leaders. Allowing leaders to grow into their roles means your organization grows, too.

Embrace Learning Through Failure

Failure is a powerful teacher. Embrace it. Peter Drucker famously stated, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  Part of that creation process involves making mistakes and learning from them. Guiding your leaders through their errors is not about correcting them but about helping them to understand and develop the insight needed to make better decisions in the future.

Okay, this was really hard for me in the early days. Well, it’s probably hard now, too. The reality is that you must allow leaders to make critical decisions; it’s the only way they will get better at it. I had to learn to get comfortable (or somewhat) with investing resources into allowing my leaders to make decisions and learn from them in real-time.

It requires your time, hearing each leader out and helping them understand and learn from each good and not-so-good decision. I had to learn how to become a much better listener if I had any real chance of helping today’s leaders for today’s opportunities as well as helping them be well equipped for tomorrow’s opportunities.

The checkbook will spend on this type of learning more than if you didn’t lead this way.  It requires you to have a longer view of the timeline of leadership in your organization. By guiding your leaders through their mistakes, you’re not just correcting them; you’re helping them gain insights for better decision-making.

Empower with Authority

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” True empowerment means stepping back and letting others lead. 

As I continued to grow as a leader who embraced growing leaders, I had to learn how to avoid being involved in all the decisions and meetings where those decisions were made. In our accounting firm, our then-COO Rachel pulled me aside one day and said, “I think it’s time for you to step away from the management meetings and allow me to handle them without you there.”

Here’s a lesson to remember: Humility comes before Honor. At that moment, I humbled myself, and in the process, I knew she was right. Well, I stepped away from those meetings, and they got better, and we grew beyond what we imagined. The team got really excited about seeing true authority being handed off. It propelled many of them to want more and see themselves in leadership roles.

Multiple studies have been conducted that indicate that driven leaders stay longer in an organization where they see growth opportunities. There is no better way to keep people than to show them a pathway to promotion within your company. 

Empowerment is about giving others the freedom to lead. It’s about trusting your leaders and stepping back to let them take the reins.

Celebrate the Success of Others

Celebration is not just a form of recognition and encouragement, it’s a powerful tool that can significantly boost your team’s morale. By praising and recognizing the achievements of your leaders, you foster a culture that not only values growth and success but also instills a sense of pride and motivation in them.

So, celebrate your team’s achievements, and remember that sometimes, the seeds you plant in others may not flourish. Yet, it’s vital to continue sowing. As Maxwell advises, “We must be big enough to admit our mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” Acknowledge both the successes and the learning opportunities that come with empowering others. 

I often say to our leaders and leadership groups that you should use “I” and “me” when taking responsibility for the things that didn’t work out and “us” and “we” for celebrating the leaders and team as a whole. This is so critical among your leaders. Allow them to have the credit and work hard to be the ones highlighting their achievements.

There are so many examples in our organization around this tip. It is baked into everything we do, so much so that we created a props system whereby we can each offer highlights, praises, and feedback on the great accomplishments anyone on the team made and how a team member was personally impacted.

So, Where do Traditional Leadership Development Programs Fall Short?

The root cause of the failure in leadership development programs is their narrow focus on the leader and not on the broader picture of leadership influence.

Failing to Cultivate Multipliers

Many programs overlook the concept of leadership multiplication. They focus on the individual and fail to address the leader’s ability to multiply their wisdom by nurturing tomorrow’s leaders.

Overlooking the Delegation

Without the ‘70% Rule,’ programs breed dependency on the leader rather than fostering independent leaders. This stunts the growth of both individuals and organizations.

Fear of Failure

Development programs often emphasize success over learning. However, real growth happens when leaders are allowed to fail and learn from their mistakes.

Withholding Authority

Without empowering emerging leaders with sufficient authority, development programs limit their potential for real-world decision-making and organizational impact.

Lacking Celebration of Collective Success

Programs that don’t highlight the collective achievements fail to enhance morale and inspire leaders to reach their full potential.

In Summary

The fundamental flaw in most leadership development programs is their inability to appreciate the power of leadership multiplication—the ability to cultivate leaders who will continue to inspire and lead. Successful programs must expand their scope to encompass the journey from Hero to Hero Maker, impressing upon leaders the importance of building a resilient organization with a legacy of widespread leadership. By recognizing the necessity of building heroes, embracing the ‘70% Rule’ and learning from failures, empowering with authority, and celebrating collective success, leadership development can be revolutionized, ensuring that organizations don’t just survive but thrive.

The shift from being a Hero to becoming a Hero Maker is a significant transformation in leadership style. By fostering a culture of trust, responsibility, and shared success, you pave the way for a future where your organization thrives on the collective strength of its leaders. This transition empowers your team and sets the stage for a more resilient and successful organization.


What is leadership multiplication?

Leadership multiplication is the concept of nurturing and developing leaders within your organization who can inspire and guide others.

Why is the '70% Rule' important in leadership development?

The ‘70% Rule’ allows for delegating leadership effectively, providing room for growth and learning from real-world experiences.

How can failure be a positive force in leadership development?

Failure provides a unique learning opportunity that hones decision-making skills and build resilience, which are crucial for effective leadership.

What does empowering leaders with authority achieve?

Empowering leaders with authority builds trust, encourages autonomy, and showcases a clear path for growth within the company.

How does celebrating success contribute to leadership development?

Celebrating the successes of your team reinforces a positive culture, incentivizes performance, and underscores the value of collaborative achievement.

About Beyond Your Shadow

At Beyond Your Shadow, we recognize that a leader’s shadow casts a profound impact on the organization. We are committed to helping leaders identify strengths and areas for improvement in their leadership approach, ensuring a multiplication effect that echoes throughout their teams and their company.