Bridge building rather than whip cracking. Autonomy & accountability rather than micromanagement and order taking.
Most people would agree that the image of a boss yelling orders at their team is neither helpful nor effective as a form of leadership. However, I also believe that the image of a leader leading from the front, alongside their team, is not the ideal one either. I have witnessed numerous leaders attempting to demonstrate their commitment to high-quality work by taking on the role of both a team lead and a manager. Unfortunately, this mentality often leads to a multitude of problems, inefficiencies, and high turnover rates.
Instead, I prefer to envision a leader as someone who constructs and supports a bridge for their team. A leader should inspire their team, establish a clear vision, facilitate connections, and remove obstacles. Most importantly, they should empower their team members to produce their best work. However, the actual responsibility for carrying out the work lies with the team, not the manager. Great leaders are known for granting autonomy while maintaining accountability.
In my experience, transparency, accountability, teamwork, and ownership are crucial elements for creating and sustaining winning teams. I hire exceptional individuals with the necessary skills and background to solve problems, equip them with the tools, guidance, and training they require to succeed, and then allow them the freedom to operate independently. I specifically seek out individuals who possess a Founder's Mentality, as they are motivated to make decisions and achieve results through their own resourcefulness. My role primarily involves providing clear direction, defining objectives and key results, and giving them the flexibility to accomplish those objectives/results in their own way. I establish explicit expectations and hold both the team and myself accountable. I expect everyone to perform at their best, but I do not tolerate the notion of "superstars," "gurus," or "rockstars."
The best way I've found to create a culture of innovation that is scalable is to push decision making & accountability as far down the chain as possible. This approach transforms the entire team into a collective of leaders rather than followers.