Being a teacher or being a leader is, at its best, often unpredictable. Knowing how to motivate each student or person on a team can be so frustrating and challenging. I certainly understand the challenges of being a teacher and trying to help each child understand their own brilliance, as I was a teacher right after I graduated college. I did my best to uncover their potential. With many I was successful and with others, they didn’t see it or feel it in themselves.
As a leader, you must acquire the knowledge of what truly inspires others so that they can and will perform at a high level and be excited to do that. Here are some ideas that can help leaders support others to reach the potential they knew they had and to keep going.
- One-On-One Conversations-Create an environment that encourages business relationships to grow. This is where you can set goals and expectations while also learning what makes them tick. What are their goals in their position and what challenges do they have or foresee? What suggestions do they have and how creative can they be? You will be surprised what comes out of these conversations.
- Find out what motivates them-This has always been a sticking point for me. I made it a point to find out what motivated my team. So many people have never asked or been asked. If you don’t know…ASK! How do you know what journey they want to take if you don’t know? What are they passionate about? Motivation is not always about money and many times, it’s not even in the top 5. Once you know what motivates your team, you have something to work with to develop their future goals…and can course correct if they are hitting a speed bump.
- Provide the resources they need to do their work exceptionally well-This can be eye-opening because most times, no one thinks to ask what they need to do their job even better. It may be as simple as access to a website or app or maybe they need a different place to work or flexible hours. When you ask, and you listen, they know you are interested in their growth.
- Praise and compliment them often-While not everyone likes to be the center of attention, everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. In a study about engagement, it has been found that employees and team members who receive recognition on a regular basis, increase their individual productivity, are more loyal and are more likely to stay with their organizations. It starts with those one-on-one conversations.
- Believe in them-Many times we underestimate the potential of our team members. The question we need to ask ourselves is do we trust them to do what they were hired to do? Then we need to let them do it. Give them the room to perform, to make decisions and to follow through. Don’t forget we also need to support them to make their experience even more exceptional and remarkable. If it doesn’t go exactly as planned, ask them what they’ve learned.
If you want to get the best from your employees and team members, you have to ensure that they reach their full potential or at least have the ability to. This may involve the investment of time, effort and money, but the results make all this worthwhile.
Now, here is something we need to understand… Being a leader isn’t all about you—it’s important to instill leadership skills in others for the good of their careers, too. When they’re equipped with these skills, they’ll be able to make informed decisions, guide their peers, and be better qualified for opportunities that come their way. Here are some ideas:
- Teach Them to Network-How many of us love to network? There will always be a few, but most people don’t enjoy it. The truth is you need to network and build your network before you need them. While it may feel clunky for a while, they will learn how to build relationships and ask for something that they may need or want. This doesn’t mean to take them to a huge networking event and throw them into the deep end. It means to introduce them to people in your company that may be outside their immediate circle. Once they are somewhat comfortable there, take them to something that is industry related and eventually have them go in your place. They will develop people skills, which are more important than any technical skills, in advancing their careers.
- Let Them Struggle…A Little-If you want to provide someone with the experience, they need to be a leader, you have to help them move out of their comfort zone. Give them some tasks to complete or make introductions to others that are at a different level. Yes, you will see them sweat a bit, but that is all part of the plan…to be able to figure things out, let them struggle, but be there as their safety net…at least in the beginning.
- Be a Mentor-This goes right back to what we started with…those one-on-one conversations. Now this can become a mentor-mentee relationship so that you can really hone in on their leadership skills. Take them on the journey and let them know what it is they need to accomplish and what hiccups might appear. Let them know some ways around it and always ask what they would do in a certain scenario before you share your ideas.
- Give them the authority to make decisions-If you teach them how to make informed decisions but you want them to run them by you before they make them, how does that make them feel like a leader? There will be decisions that are difficult and decisions that do require joint conversations. Make it crystal clear what they should be doing. That goes back to expectations. When you have someone that has a leadership mentality but is stifled by someone’s ego, the situation is certainly not one where anyone wins or grows. It’s about building confidence, trusting your gut and knowing that someone believes in you as a leader. When they feel they are important to your company, the leader will emerge.
As Jack Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.