Developing Human Capital: The Ultimate Leadership Challenge Part 3: Creating Leaders Among Followers

So far, we have covered setting the stage for high performance, being an employer of choice and creating a culture of accountability. In part 3, the goal is to realize employee value potential and how this process creates leaders among followers. Employee value potential simplified is:

Current Performance + Future Potential = Employee Value Potential

The challenge for leaders is that we tend to get stuck in current performance and do not create the space for employees to grow into their future potential. Creating space to foster future potential is about giving people the authority to do their job to the best of their creative ability. We tend to stifle creativity and growth potential by micro-managing our employees’. It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Although the concept seems simple enough, very few are unable to restrain from “meddling” with their people while they try to accomplish what it is they have been hired to do.

Our goal as leaders is to have every employee lead from where they are. Leading from where you are means employees take ownership of their job regardless of position and to use the authority we give them to creatively, efficiently and effectively perform. This in turn creates leaders among followers in your practice while simultaneously allows for future potential.

The role of leaders in helping employees realize their full value potential is to remember four important things that are true about people in general, these four things creates the right mindset in understanding value potential as it relates to employees in your practice:

  1. Everyone has value regardless of position or status in an organization. The key is to find what area maximizes their value potential. Sometimes this requires reinventing someone.
  2. Anyone can be reinvented or discovered. It’s possible to make a superstar out of anyone. People need to know someone believes in them. When showing someone the vision of their own success, they will do amazing things.
  3. Everyone needs and deserves to be validated. Everyone matters and should be heard. Validation is the first step to motivation.
  4. If properly motivated, people will rise to challenges beyond our expectations.

Effective leadership starts with one simple belief, that together greatness can be achieved. No one reaches greatness without the hard work and commitment of other people. To enlist and engage others towards success, a leader must be willing to allow people the freedom to choose their path. Freedom comes when leaders quit “meddling” as Roosevelt indicated and leaders empower followers to claim their own stake in organizational success. This can be achieved by understanding a simple formula:

3 A’s = 3 P’s


Empower your employees and let them have the authority to be high performers without meddling. Let your employee’s take ownership of their position and responsibilities. Do not micro manage but instead allow space for their future potential as mentioned earlier.


Whenever we give authority it is essential that we hold them accountable as well. Remember the new definition of accountability from last month’s article? Rising above one’s circumstances to demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving goals and exceeding expectations. Continually follow up with employees who have been empowered. Authority without accountability is dangerous.


Once you have given employees authority and are holding them accountable, back away and allow for autonomy. Allowing employees autonomy and flexibility to choose their methods of completing tasks ultimately increases work output and employee commitment. Remember the goal is to allow freedom in choosing their path. For example, if you ask an employee to deliver over-the-top exceptional client service, do not tell them how to achieve this but rather allow them creativity and to independently deliver.

The combination of giving authority (empowering) while actively holding them accountable to that authority gives employees the means and tools to produce, solve complex problems and increase collaborative capacity (working as a team). The autonomy piece simply allows employees to claim his or her own stake in the practices’ overall success (their contribution). These 3 A’s yield 3 P’s :


At the end of the day empowered people produce. Productivity is the single most important measure of success for a leader. Give your employees the authority to be producers.

Problem Solvers

When employees are empowered they find workable and reconcilable solutions to problems you may not know you had.


When employees are held accountable they navigate through their inherited situation and become more interested in serving others. Their focus becomes entrenched on building a sense of community rather than a hierarchy. This invariably creates an environment of collaboration and altruism. Employees become peacemakers.

Although phenomenological in nature, this formula when placed into action will significantly increase people’s belief in their own ability to make a difference. This is a powerful weapon in your management/leadership arsenal. When your employees know they have the power and authority to make a difference they instinctively take on a leadership mindset. This is how to create leaders among followers. Additionally, this formula helps support your leadership initiatives in obtaining, retaining and developing talent as well as supporting a culture of accountability.

At the beginning of this three part series it was stated that human capital is defined as the collective skills and knowledge that individuals possess that create economic value for an employer. The most important asset you have in your practice is your staff. Imagine a fully booked schedule with appointments and procedures and no one there to execute. How valuable is the state-of-the-art equipment you have on this day?

Obtaining and developing your human capital is perhaps the best investment to make in consideration of overall practice success and value. As practice owners and practice managers you have two roles. One is manager and management, which is the mastery of skills and tasks. The second role is leader and leadership, which is the mastery of people. It is the role of leader that develops human capital. By providing the right kind of leadership that retains and develops talent and by creating a culture that not only fosters accountability but also celebrates it, and by empowering your employees to lead where they are, you are creating a competitive strategic advantage that is nearly impossible to replicate.

Manage Things: Lead People

An organization loses its competitive advantage when competitors are emulating the same or similar value for their organization. It is not difficult for a veterinary practice to obtain the same equipment or perform the same services as another practice down the street. What is difficult to emulate is a high performing team that is appreciated and empowered to grow, lead and produce creatively. Create a competitive strategic advantage through your human capital.