As a leader you know the success of your team is going to depend in large part on the people you have working with you. You spend a lot of time and energy finding just the right people. You don’t simply look for experience, you look for people with the right attitude, who you believe have potential, the ones you see growing with you and your team
Now the question is, how do help those people reach their potential?
Listen to them
When you give someone your complete attention, you are giving them space to express what they think and how they feel. People feel valued and want to do their best when they feel listened to. Really listening to someone isn’t simply a matter of listening to the words they say, it’s about listening with the intention of hearing the meaning of those words.
Does this person need help with some aspect of what they’re doing? Are they saying they can do more? Is something making them uncomfortable?
If you aren’t completely clear, ask questions. Listen to what they say and respond appropriately.
Give clear direction
Make sure people understand exactly what you expect from them. Never make assumptions about what they already know or what they can do. Ask them. Make it your business to know exactly what everyone you work with is capable of.
Challenging your people is great, but before you challenge someone to hit a homerun, confirm they know how to play baseball.
Once you start seeing results, ensure you praise effort not ability. A person who feels valued and encouraged will work a lot harder to do a great job than someone for whom a task comes easily.
The Fast Company article Six Habits of People Who Know How To Bring Out The Best in Others puts it this way, “As a leader, the most important part of your job isn’t your results. Your job is to inspire your employees’ results.”
You may be really strong in certain things and less proficient in others. People will trust you if you are honest with them and in turn feel comfortable being honest with you. Instead of feeling like you need to appear to you know all the answers, let people know when you don’t. Let them know when you need help and accept it graciously when it’s offered. Trust and honesty are integral to building a strong team. Success in organizations with a strong team backbone is shared success everyone can feel proud of.
Acknowledge a job well done
When someone does good work or great work, acknowledge it. When someone feels like their efforts are noticed and appreciated they will keep doing what they’re doing and will be inspired to do even more
See the opportunity through the eyes of your team members
People are excited about doing their best when their work when it’s motivating and fulfilling. The article, Bringing Out The Best In Employees from the London Business School, mentions five characteristics employees consider important for feeling fulfilled in their work:
- Having responsibility for doing something worthwhile
- Being given a high level of freedom for how results are achieved
- Having an opportunity to extend oneself and to develop expertise
- Being given an opportunity to work with good colleagues
- Achieving recognition for doing a good job.
Set an example
You want to inspire people to do their best. That means you need to be doing your best, day in and day out. You need to set the example for others to follow. The most long lasting, dedicated people are the ones who are inspired by possibilities. You might think you can get more out of people through intimidation or rewards, but really they will do their best when they’re inspired to do their best. Be the inspiration.