While studying the great leaders and makers of history, we can see an array of different styles. All truly great leaders, be them democratic, autocratic, or laissez-faire, share a number of common characteristics.

Chief among these shared commonalities is an ability and tendency for these individuals to step up as mentors. As they focus on their own professional development and grow their companies, they also step up as mentors to their own teams.

A great leader should never become an entrepreneur or a business owner just to enjoy the fruits of their labor in the form of notoriety or money; they should also want to model how to be a successful leader for the aspiring leaders on their team. After all, you can’t expect to hire top talent without thinking they’re going to one day pursue leadership in some form.

The Responsibilities of a Leader

In any given organization, a leader fulfills many roles. They are mentors, disciplinarians, motivators, counselors, visionaries, decision-makers, and team players. The list could go on.

While each of these roles are indispensable, arguably the most important of them all is mentorship. If a leader does not share the accumulated sum of their knowledge and experience, then they aren’t doing what’s necessary to share in the growth of their own team members. What good is a lifetime of experience if it is not shared and passed on to the talent you surround yourself with?

Leaders vs. Bosses

A majority of employees that quit their jobs do so due to the attitude and incompetence of their leaders. In any group, there is nothing worse than a leader who does not provide nurturance, guidance, and respect to their employees. Such a person is not a leader, but only an individual in a position of power.

Here we can see the difference between a boss and a leader. It’s easy to tell people what to do. On the other hand, it is difficult to groom others for a future potential leadership position. Those true leaders do their organization great justice by allowing for the future leaders to be groomed in-house, so to speak, as opposed to being hired from the outside. These mentors will nearly always find that they are highly respected within their organization, and rightfully so, as they are contributing in the highest possible way.

Building Careers

It should be a priority of every leader to help advance the careers of their staff. If mentorship is not given, then the workers often feel as if they are simply cogs in a machine and not valued for their individuality. Such a team will never accomplish anything worthwhile. Every member needs to be viewed as a potential leader. This way, they feel as if they are going somewhere and aren’t just stuck in an organization, spinning their wheels.

A great leader is also likely to have a network of other mentors, which they also gain insight and guidance from. It’s like a compounding of experience, which cannot simply be created out of thin air but instead, takes years, even lifetimes, to build.

The most cherished and overall effective leaders are also the greatest mentors.