Leadership is difficult, and it should be. Thus, a leader is not made in a day, but undergoes a continuously evolving learning process.

Often, one of the most important aspects to a leader's growth comes from others.

"A leader's potential is determined by those closest to him. What makes a difference is the leader's inner circle," said John Maxwell, a leadership expert.

I experienced this firsthand while working for the federal government. I got promoted to a first-line supervisor, coming from a contracting office to an office that did security for entire Army installation.

I was in totally new environment, with people I did not really know. On top of that, there was a major reorganization that resulted in people losing their jobs. The individuals who became my employees had much trepidation about whether I could be trusted as their boss.

In order to help ease the transition, I asked each employee to send me his/her resume and to schedule a meeting with me. At this meeting, I sought to know what they desired from their careers, and I informed them that I had an open-door policy.

I needed to gain their trust, since I was not part of the inner workings of either the previous organization or the current one. These meetings worked greatly to alleviate any fears they may have had.

My goal as a supervisor was to not be their best friend but to help to empower them. I was responsible for 14 unique personalities. Because I earned their trust early on, I was able to give out assignments that not only complemented each person's expertise, but also helped them to grow.

As a leader, I had to remember that it is difficult for others to follow you if you do not know how to properly communicate.

I had come from an organization that was very closed-minded, so I made it my personal mission for all to understand that each of us had a job to do. I wanted my team to be able to talk freely about issues, and not have to wonder whether there would be any reprisals.

The inner circle Maxwell talks about refers to not doing it alone. You can be the most talented person, but if you do not have others to work along with you, then nothing great can be accomplished. The teams I led were all intertwined with each other. We had to be a well-oiled machine in order to get the job done.

In order for you to reach your potential, you have to make others reach theirs. It is not enough just to have an inner circle; it is what you do with it.

You have influence as a leader. You must ensure that each member can find greatness within themselves. You have an opportunity not only to be there for the employees but also to confirm that the organization needs them.

Everyone brings something to the table. As a leader, you must equip your people with the right training, chances and commitment if you want to get anything done. You have to be more than a leader. You have to be a coach, mentor and a good listener for your people to succeed.

Everyone strives to be exceptional, so it should be the goal of all leaders to make others shine. Then, you can stand back to see the great results that can be achieved.