“One of the most significant contributions to business failure is the inability to get things done through people.”
~ David Krajenowski
Leaders accomplish their visions through personal growth and personnel growth. Focusing on individual development is fine, but doing something truly significant also involves empowering others to grow to their potential. One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.
For a leader, growing people isn’t just a theoretical, pie-in-the-sky notion; it’s a pressing demand with real-world implications. An organization that’s not investing in its people exhibits all sorts of unhealthy symptoms.
Trouble on the bottom line.
Backstabbing and infighting for turf.
Complaining that has little focus on real issues.
Unaccounted for absences from the office.
Poor communications among workers.
Long work days but low productivity.
On the other hand, when leaders grow their people, they reap the rewards of high morale and synergies of teamwork.
The most effective way to grow an organization is to grow the people in it. Here are some growth practices that you can apply to grow your team.
1) Develop a game plan to grow others.
The highest function of a leader is not just to lead others; the highest function of a leader is to produce leaders who can lead others. There’s no outsourcing the responsibility to develop the leadership capacities of your people. You have to take initiative to mentor others within your organization
Mentors must possess a specific know-how. Without this confidence and knowledge they are not ready to transfer what they’ve learned to others. At the same time, the object of mentoring is not perfection but improvement. Don’t feel as if you have to be flawless before you can begin to impart your wisdom and skills to others. Also, realize that the underlying purpose of mentoring is not for people to act differently but rather to become different. Such a change certainly doesn’t happen overnight; the process is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
2) Connect with them.
Connection doesn’t happen unless you put in the time to learn about someone’s unique personality, perspective, and motivations. Ask questions about the people on your team to uncover their interests, and observe them in action to find out their capacity and strengths. Finally, demonstrate your commitment to their success by consistently adding value to them, providing constant encouragement, and making yourself available for questions.
3) Challenge them.
Giving others a project that causes them to stretch helps to build their emotional and creative capacity. Conferences and training seminars have their place, but most learning takes place on the job. People grow through actual assignments in which they encounter real-life problems that have immediate relevance to the company.
4) Empower them.
Empowerment begins by painting the big-picture for those you lead. Disney doesn’t give its street sweepers four days of training because street sweeping is complex; Disney wants sweepers who are able to answer guest’s questions about the park.
Empowerment also is all about trust. As Captain D. Michael Abrashoff said, “If all you give are orders, then all you’ll get are order-takers.” Leaders give power to those they lead, and then hold them accountable for using that power appropriately.