When it comes to training and developing others, we can often avoid someone’s weak areas.
Much of this can be unintentional as leaders seek to leverage a person’s strengths or may not necessarily have the time to spend on extra training hours.
But the most challenging area might be believing that the person you’re developing may actually grow in an area where they are weakest.
Take for instance Rob, a young manager who had poor organization skills but otherwise had some key talents that complimented his team. His manager decided to place Rob in charge of coordinating all marketing materials for the bi-monthly promotions. When others on the management team questioned the decision, the manager reassured everyone that Rob would do a solid job. And while Rob did shine in his new responsibilities, he also started to show better planning and prioritizing skills.
Another example is Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb. The former Cal women’s basketball head coach was hired to the NBA and her first major presentation was to scout the Boston Celtics team for the upcoming game.
She was asked last minute by the owner and head coach to present how to match up against their opponent. Gottlieb, who was skilled at conducting film sessions at Cal, made her scouting report of the Celtics into a film session on how to break down their game. After her presentation, all present said she killed it.
While scouting at the pro level was something she had really done, her mentor knew that she could grow in this area and placed Gottlieb into an area that she could learn and grow. And it worked like a charm
These two examples show a variety of reasons why it can be beneficial to place your people into situations they may be weak or inexperienced at as key development strategies.
Instead of shying away from challenging training opportunities in favor of putting their “aces in their places,” leaders should always scout events where they can create strengths out of their people’s weaker areas. Or at the least, help someone get better in a lesser skill so that they can be more well-rounded and more confident in their abilities.
Every interaction and situation is a chance to grow and build your team. Don’t ignore an episode because you don’t believe someone won’t get better.
You have the keys to making your people shine, so open those doors that otherwise might be shut for them.
Gene was a new area manager and part of his new territory was to oversee the team at the largest revenue store in the company.
His first day was to tour each store for a few hours and introduce himself to the management and team members there. The store had great potential but the team was struggling and had new supervisors assigned in the last few weeks.
One of the key supervisors, Sherry, was on duty that day. As they were talking, Sherry who was very skeptical on the new management changes, asked Gene point-blank “So what changes are you going to make?”
Almost without thinking, Gene responded “Not sure, Sherry. What changes would you like to see?”
Instantly, Gene could see Sherry’s defenses drop. Her face became relived and her eyes opened with hope. She immediately and enthusiastically gave him her thoughts. Gene eagerly wrote it all down then proceeded to follow-up on her ideas over the next couple of weeks.
What Gene exhibited here was being others-aware in his servant leadership. He knew that while he had ideas and those whom he reported to had ideas, he needed to consult those closest to the customer and find the best solutions to allow all parties to be aligned.
But the most important thing Gene did, and quite consciously, is give Sherry a voice for her ideas. Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship, then work on building the relationships afterwards. In this case, he made the team first by asking Sherry and each of her colleagues about their thoughts then immediately started to act on them.
Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship then work on building the relationships afterwards.
By creating a priority of hearing, and acting, on the voice of their people, a leader can gain instant credibility of their team to ease the transition process of their new role and better align everyone by building trust.
It’s a simple, effective and proven principle of servant leadership. Serving your people with their best interests will allow a leader to develop a strong sense of teamwork and rapport.
Once a leader does this, they also set the stage for consistent action along these lines as well. People will see through the leader who is receptive at first then changes color afterwards (kind of a bait-and-switch style of leadership) and that will decimate a leader’s effectiveness and reputation quickly.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performers that will enable them to attain better levels of achievement in the organization. It sets a delicate balance for the leader in which their true colors and agenda will be measured to the baseline they set. Servant leaders at their core will be able to measure up while others will struggle.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performersTweet
While I believe people can overcome a bad first impression, that first interaction with a new team can be an essential step towards success if handled with the correct mindset.
With Sherry’s help, Gene was able to guide the team to understand their opportunities for development which enabled them to meet their goals consistently for the coming years. He realized it was that team-first mentality that got the team committed to him to make the changes that were asked for. The store’s sales and sense of pride soon became the model for the organization as a result.
Handle your new role and/or new team with care. If done correctly the results can be tremendous in creating a company or department of deep trust and commitment.
Leadership is about giving to and serving others. It’s about creating an environment that enables others to reach new heights of achievement and depths of talents and skills.
And with a career devoted to giving and serving, leaders need to take in frequently as well. Like a river that feeds a valley and keeps it lush, it needs a source itself in order to continue to water the landscape.
While today’s workplace can be quite busy, finding a few regular resources for you to help grow in your influence is essential to stay sharp and refreshed.
So here are 11 ways you can keep growing in your leadership career:
- Reading Industry Articles. Keeping up on what’s happening in your industry is essential to understanding trends, best practices and emerging innovations. And most of the articles out there also touch ancillary industries to broaden your skills – such as SaaS development and sales, healthcare advances and regulatory issues, manufacturing and labor relations. Many great leaders are well versed in their fields and other industries as well.
- Podcasts. Podcasts are the fastest growing medium today, and for many reasons. The content can be consumed actively – such as in your office or driving – as well as passively, such as when doing your core work, reading or exercising. The accessibility of podcasts from a variety of platforms makes them quite possibly the best time spent in developing your leadership.
- Reading Books. Taking time to read good books on business or leadership can work great changes in improving your mind and leadership skills. Retention tends to be higher and you can always pause to ponder a well made thought the author poses. And reading other genres can improve and round out your conversational skills as well – such as historical books, biographies or true stories such as Into Thin Air (which I highly recommend).
- Audio Books. Similar to podcast, audio books give a great option for someone to consume a book when they’re otherwise not able to do so. Many people will save books they really want to deep dive into for reading, and leave the other books they want to glean from as an audiobook. Great way to get through a tough book or review a book you read and remember the key points.
- Apps. Smartphone apps can cover the entire scope of everything mentioned in this list. Yet beyond what you can learn from iTunes, Google Play or Audible, many apps help you with small leadership snipets like Audvisor or learning a second language like DuoLingo. Plus there are many productivity and goal planning apps that can help you plan, schedule time for personal development and take notes. Find what gaps may be in your growth path and there is surely an app to meet that need.
- Seminars. Attending a live seminar is probably the single most impactful thing to grow as a leader. While they can be pricey, a good leader will put a lot of effort into learning, networking and making actin plans to more than justify the cost and create a return not only for their company but for themselves as well.
- Networking Events. Local business meetups and industry events are just a few of the networking events you can attend and develop. While many people go to connect and widen their connections, astute leaders will learn about others and ask questions that engage in rich conversations to enable them to learn more about people, emerging trends in a variety of public and private sector areas and areas they may not be knowledgeable in.
- Videos. YouTube (and other platforms) is replete with great TEDTalks and videos from Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins and others. If you can’t attend a seminar, webinar or want to see a particular speaker in action, consuming video content can help you know only learn, but develop your public speaking skills by watching others in action.
- Online Courses. Many established leaders and higher learning institutions have online classes available. Whether pursuing a higher degree, learning a new skill, or developing better personal habits or more rounded skills (like speaking, writing or ancillary industries) online courses can be a methodical way to develop some deeper and lifelong talents.
- Blogging. Did you know that creating content can also help you in growing and developing as a leader? The amount of knowledge one gains by researching and informing others always produces a more intimate understanding of what you’re writing about. Ask any blogger and they’ll tell you that they learn just as much from posting as does their audience from reading their blog.
- Podcasting. Just like blogging, creating your own podcast is a great way to grow as well. One of the unique things that podcasting can create for you is if you interview others. In preparing questions and interacting with those you have on your cast, you get the best of developing from networking, socializing and creating content all in one format. The verbal exercise also helps ingrain the practices your talking about into your psyche and creating inedible leadership impressions on you.
We wish we could do all of these techniques and more on a regular basis. But by knowing what’s available and picking the ones that are both most impactful for your growth and easiest to incorporate into your routine, you can come away with taking advantage of your precious time and the ready access of content to find the best resources for your path.
And with a career devoted to giving and serving, leaders need to take in frequently as well.Tweet
What do you use to grow your leadership? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!