Developing people is an art and a skill that's essential in leadership.
However, thousands of professionals worldwide have leadership titles but do very little to help others grow. Then there is a segment of those with a title who not only measure their success based on their short-term results, but also on their legacy of helping other people achieve their potential.
According to Gallup, 87% of millennials say professional growth and development opportunities are a top priority. If the lasting impact of helping someone become a better version of themselves wasn't enough, attracting and retaining employees is also a byproduct of development.
Dr. Will Sparks, the author of Actualized Leadership, told me in an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, "If leaders reframe their job to be around the development of their team as opposed to managing every outcome to their definition of perfection, it will have a profound impact on their success and on the lives of their people."
If there is one thing I've learned from people like Dr. Sparks and studying great leaders throughout my career, it's that people's development is always high on their priority list. They are constantly looking for opportunities to teach, coach, mold, and shape the people they get the chance to lead.
The Part of Development Not Talked About Enough
There are very few secrets when it comes to leadership. However, one thing isn't talked about enough when it comes to development that seemingly only the best leaders grasp.
Great leaders know they can't claim the outcome for someone else.
Personal development is a choice each one of us makes, and under no circumstance can a leader make that choice for someone else. Sure, they can host a workshop or invest in a training program, but they can't claim someone else's development outcome.
Easy to write, difficult in practice because if you care about people and their development, you want nothing more than for them to be successful.
Since you have gotten this far, I will assume you want to get better at developing talent. Here are three ways you can help grow your people right now:
1. Coach Them Daily
One of the ways a leader separates themselves from being a manager is by coaching their people daily. A coach, by definition, is one who trains and instructs. Coaching comes from the word “carriage,” meaning to take someone from point A to point B. The late great John Whitmore took the formal definition even further, saying:
"Coaching is unlocking people's potential and helping them learn rather than teaching them."
If you are going to help your people develop, you must play the role of coach. While outside professional or executive coaches can help provide tremendous perspective, they can't coach daily. If you lead a team, it's your responsibility to make coaching your people a priority daily. The reason is simple:
Coaching unlocks potential and elevates performance.
I have written before about coaching strategies for people at different levels of development, but know listening and asking great questions is at the center of modern coaching.
2. Always Look for Things Causing Interference
There have been many seminal thinkers and significant books that advanced the world of coaching and development. One of those is Tim Gallwey and his book, The Inner Game of Tennis. According to Gallwey, our greatness already exists inside of us. We reach our full potential by subtraction of the interferences that degrade our inherent brilliance. He positioned a powerful equation:
Performance = Potential - Interference
A fantastic way to develop your people is to look for things causing continuous interference. Sometimes this might be an internal process or procedure, or other times it might be a mental belief holding them back. Either way, part of your job is to listen for interference or observe where it might be coming from and work to remove it.
3. Challenge Them With Opportunities
If you settle for the same output or effort people give on a day in, day out basis, there won't be a lot of growth happening. You must challenge people because when you challenge others to raise their game, you show them you see more in them than they see in themselves.
Challenging people is crucial because it's human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality.
Here is the key; having a solid relationship and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge others to get a positive response. If and when this foundation is in place, I want you to remember these four words.
Go before you are ready.
Part of your responsibility as a leader is to provide your team with opportunities to go before they are ready. If you are growing and developing your people, you should be having them doing things before they are ready.
Something fascinating happens when you develop others. Not only will talented people meet their full potential, but you will attract like-minded and equally talented people who want to be a part of your team or organization.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, "Your leadership is temporary, your impact is lasting." Whether your development efforts others show up on the short term results or not, know you are making a lasting impact on people.
About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.
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