Pass Greatness On And Watch It Grow
When you think about your growth and advancement, do you automatically stop to think about bringing your best and brightest along with you? It is no small task to inspire your team members to greatness. If they can grasp the extent of your enthusiasm, they may be able to hitch their wagons to your star. Those great performers who automatically share in your vision tend to be few and far between.
The question is: How do you get the rest of your team to follow suit? How can you get them to catch the wave of your passion for the job at hand? How can you possibly show them the path you see in your vision for the team, the division and the company? It’s not easy. It takes patience, creativity and perseverance. Most of all, it takes a big dose of leadership.
When I work with executives who want to know how to begin the process of empowering their employees, I suggest starting with an exercise in introspection. What are your leadership strengths? Perhaps more importantly, what are your leadership weaknesses?
Have a look at yourself from the outside. Leave any emotion or ego out of it as you imagine how you are viewed by your team, how you are viewed by your peers and how you are viewed by your management. Chances are you are viewed differently by all three.
If you decide some work on the perception of you is in order, start with your team. They are the most important piece of the success equation.
When you spend the time mentoring, teaching and leading your team to greatness, one of the many payoffs is that your peers and leaders will notice the difference. When you pass your inspiration and desire for excellence on to others, it grows your own at the same time.
If you plan to develop team members and give them the opportunity for growth, you’ll need to inspire them. It’s important to make them feel connected to the purpose of their daily tasks, actions and the processes by which they’re expected to adhere. Let them know how their work supports the work of other teams and other divisions and, ultimately, improves the satisfaction of the customer. If you don’t, you risk leaving behind mediocre performers who think that all they do is check off boxes on a form day after day. Where’s the enthusiasm in that?
People will follow you if you honestly feel passion and purpose in their work and in your own. It’s immediately obvious if you’re faking it — and job title alone won’t encourage top performance. If you don’t know how or aren’t willing to learn how to lead, it’s unrealistic to believe anyone will follow. Don’t just talk the talk. Demonstrate your integrity and trust and behave ethically at every turn in good times and bad.
Practice active listening with your team members. Hear what they are saying and even what they’re not saying. Ask questions for clarification. Keep calm, even if they admit a failure. Provide solutions, not criticism. Be the boss that you’d like to have and the one they need.
Demonstrate your commitment to development and growth. It may be difficult for you to delegate projects and tasks if you’re used to being in control. The trick is to give serious thought to each team member and where they are in their progress. Susan may be ready for the challenge of taking on that high-level report summary, whereas Mitch is currently better suited to tackle the calculations for the graphs in the report. The key is to assign the task with the right difficulty level, which will stimulate headway and set them up for success.
When success does occur, don’t be stingy with the praise or the reward. Although the task may have been nothing but a cakewalk for you, remember there was a time when it wasn’t. There was a time when someone else challenged you with it to help you succeed.
In their book Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, authors Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback explain: “Full mastery comes slowly, as with any serious craft, and requires steady progress in a world that keeps throwing up ever more complex challenges and opportunities. We know highly competent managers who consider themselves still learning even after years of experience.”
Resist any urge to take credit at the next staff meeting when your team produces an excellent product — give credit where it’s due and celebrate. Pass along any praise to your employees so they understand that their work ethic is being communicated upward.
When success does not occur, use it as a learning experience for your team. Analyze what went wrong and where without assigning blame. Focus on the positive. How can we fix it? How can we avoid the mistakes we made in the future? How can we do it better next time?
Marala Scott in her book Passion Inspires Greatness: A Journey with Purposereminds us, “There are people that will identify your lack of self-control as a weakness and use it at their advantage in competition or when it is critical to exposing your character. Being great does not mean you are great when things are going well. What it means is that you apply self-control when they are not.”
Present an optimistic view of the future. Know that when you put in the work to lead your team to greatness, you create something superior to a team that performs well. You are planting the seeds for future leaders to grow and mature to be their best selves.