By James Lee

It’s not as easy as “just hire great people,” and voila! You have a great team.

That would be like a restaurant saying, “Just buy the best ingredients,” or a football team saying, “Just recruit the best players.”

Can you think of any great teams without also having to identify a great leader on that team? Likewise, can you name a great leader without also identifying great individual contributors on that team?

Leaders and teams, coaches and players, maestros and musicians, directors and actors — look at every great multiperson endeavor, and you’ll always see this relationship between those who DO and those who LEAD.

The symbiotic relationship of leaders and doers has been the engine of progress in human endeavors.

Also universally true is that every great leader didn’t start out that way. They don’t remain flawless either.

Great Leaders Are Developed

You know the general belief that if you have a poorly performing team, all you need to do is JUST change out the bad leader with a great one?


How about organizations that have the foresight to believe in developing their leaders? To be patient in growing their leaders? Anticipating their mishaps and stumbles to stand by to support them? Building bench strength and leadership depth on their teams?

No — this doesn’t mean no accountability. Yes — you have to choose promising leaders who have the DISPOSITION to lead.

Leadership isn’t a position or a salary, and it sure isn’t a title. Leadership is a belief that your best chance of success is through helping others succeed first.

Then, you nurture their talent, hone their skills, encourage and support their risk taking, and just have their backs.

It’s simple enough to say that we should JUST replace the wrong leaders with the right ones.

What if the right leader to take their place is JUST the better, future version of the current one?

If we don’t believe this to our core — that leaders are made not born — then we should update the phrase “leadership development program” to “leadership replacement program.”

James Lee originally published this article on LinkedIn. It’s republished here with permission. James is CEO and co-founder of Bella Groves, a membership-based dementia care and training organization based in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the founder of Bear Wise Consulting, a strategy and innovation consulting firm for existing and emerging businesses who serve older adults. And he’s the creator and host of the Level Up leadership podcast.