Forging Future Leaders: Seth Taube’s Guide to Effective Leadership Development

Seth Taube's Guide to Effective Leadership Development
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Seth Taube learned the fine art of leadership on the way to success. During his student days at Harvard, the Wharton School, and St Andrews in the UK, Seth studied his instructors–renowned world leaders in their fields–as carefully as he studied the subjects they taught. It soon became clear that his success, not theirs, was their passion, a revealing insight about leadership.

A Leader’s Example

“Tomorrow’s leaders need today’s leaders as role models, as they will have to do the same for the next generation,” Seth says. A leader influences and motivates best by example. “When my company’s goals become my employee’s goals, my next step is to give them whatever they need to succeed and step aside.”

“My influence is greatest when my employees and our customers barely know I exist. When my company’s goals are met, my work is done; my vision is fulfilled. And from a leadership perspective,” Seth says, “I expect my workers to say, ‘We did it!’ And they will be right.”

Seth Taube, although he has founded and built billion-dollar companies and more, still engages actively in leadership training throughout his businesses. He has also applied this philosophy among the more than 500 companies to which he has provided capital across North America in more than 35 industries.

Leadership Basics

Over the last two decades, Seth has merged his management experience with advanced training in neurosciences and anthropology. He has developed hundreds of leaders in a wide spectrum of enterprises.

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In addition to more conventional training strategies, Seth and his leadership team have also incorporated novel training approaches borrowed from cognitive psychology, ontological philosophy, meditation, and mindfulness practices.

Such training incorporates personal values as a basic tenet of leadership. “Leadership is more than management,” Seth says. “Management directs people while leadership inspires them.” Four qualities, Seth explains, form a leader’s ethical core.

  • Integrity: A leader brings honesty, strong moral principles, and a desire to do what is right to every job.
  • Accountability: A leader must be aware of every situation, acknowledging, not hiding, or excusing any problems, and must place solutions into action without blame.
  • Learning: Strong leaders never assume there is nothing new to learn, and they always share what they learn. Knowledge is not a personal possession to be doled out in bits but a valuable team resource.
  • Sharing: A strong leader creates a culture of learning, questioning, even-handed critique, and openness to correction. Humility in a leader is a strength.

The Authority Factor

While leadership may vary among companies, whether in a for-profit or not-for-profit concern or in an educational or healthcare business, Seth says, “Every top leader must recognize that, above all else, the greatest asset a business can have is its employees.”

This emphasis on personal qualities, communication, and relationship building, however, should not distract a leader from another important fact of business life. Formal authority is also critical for a leader to exercise as needed, especially in collaborative frameworks. Key decisions must be made to align with corporate goals, and that requires authoritative control by a leader when needed.

Leadership Development

A strong leader, according to Seth Taube, will master and model these skills:

  • Lead by example
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Corporate culture starts at the top. Enthusiasm, open communication, and teamwork must be modeled by every leader. Even when political or economic factors are unsettled around a business, a good leader keeps the team’s goals in focus at all times. External factors will not distract a strong, focused leader.

  • Be a mentor

A good leader is a mentor who teaches, coaches, counsels, and guides, in addition to providing overall direction. This will cover both leadership coaching and an understanding of the skills and knowledge-base needed for each employee’s tasks. In this role, Seth advises each leader, as much as possible, to meet with each team member regularly to discuss issues, successes, and career goals within and beyond the company.

  • Listen!

Active listening is the only reliable way for a leader to harvest a team’s insights, whether those are positive or negative. Promote constructive feedback, both from and to employees, in a way that focuses on improvement where needed, not fault.

“Make sure feedback reinforces what people are doing well and give feedback focused on what needs to be optimized, “ Seth advises. “This encourages growth and inspires a worker that they can improve.”

  • Adaptapt and Grow

Nothing in a business environment stays the same for long. The best leaders do not “lock down” their processes, prospecting, or plans. They continually look ahead and adapt by learning and staying open-minded about new opportunities for growth, possibly even a change of direction over time.

Seth Taube has learned that this adaptability is especially critical during times of economic restructuring in the business world. A company and its leader may need to pivot quickly toward new resources or to change business operations to accommodate changes in the economy.

  • Become more efficient
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Business leaders often manage various responsibilities simultaneously. Time management is crucial. When possible, responsibilities can be delegated while the leader retains accountabilities. One advantage may seem paradoxical. Greater efficiency in time management may create more time for other opportunities. These may include new mentoring and leadership development opportunities and more time to improve other skills and accomplish other tasks.

  • Dynamic teams

Individuals and teams can become too narrowly focused on their specific tasks. The interface between teams and tasks, however, is often where the most important innovation occurs. A wise leader, Seth says, will diversify teams, often bringing in new members with different perspectives and experiences.

A good leader must be skilled at bringing people together who have different perspectives, not only in the business at hand, but culturally and socially, as well. Collaboration within and among teams is strengthened by variety in communication styles, skills, and outlooks.

Seth’s Final Word – A Fine Balance

Collaborative and team-based leadership styles have added much to today’s fast-paced, ever-more-complex economic environment. Seth Taube now advises, “Leadership no longer leans solely on top-down authority as the main driver of results.” Nevertheless, he also reminds readers that “strong centralized leadership is still critical.”

To remain competitive and forward-leaning, Seth advises, today’s corporations must develop leadership that balances both authority and behavior modeling in ways that merge economic agility and strength of structure within each industry.

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