Nurturing the Growth Potential of your Team

Much of what we do in our personal lives affects or impacts our professional.

And such is the case as when I was recently in the car with my son. As almost a rite of passage with children there comes a point in their music education when they come home with their recorders. If you’re not familiar with the recorder its a wind instrument that is the first step into playing other instruments. At first sight of the recorder, some parents cringe because that learning curve is a noisy one. But as I was in the car with my son and seeing his pure enthusiasm and excitement about wanting to play it with gusto and to do well, it made me so delighted. As a parent, it’s my job to nurture that excitement and to offer encouragement as he practices and grows and develops a new skill.

This moment with my son got me thinking about how we, as leaders, want to show encouragement to our people. Personal and professional growth doesn’t happen in an instant. Nor did it when my son was learning to play his first song. As our team members pick up new tools or get involved with new activities, it’s our job as leaders to encourage them through the process. To recognize their potential and to nurture their growth.

In Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” one principle he outlines is to “Be Sincere.” The thought being, the way to develop the best in someone is through authentic appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing that will kill a person’s ambition faster, than criticism. While our team members are learning new skills or testing new processes there are bound to be mistakes or errors. Rather than jumping to point out the mistake, lead with a “praise” first.

It’s as simple as: “Josh, I’m really impressed you are taking the initiative to learn this new software program. It’s a pretty robust tool and can take some time to really fully understand how to effectively manage it. I’ve noticed you’ve had a few hiccups while testing the processes. How can we work together to work through those bumps?”

Being quick to point out errors will only discourage Josh’s efforts. However, recognizing that he is still learning the program while also pointing out that it is a challenging system, mixed in with praise for taking on the task will give him the drive to keep working toward perfecting his process. Showing sincerity in your communication with him will, in turn, build his confidence in you as his supervisor. We all can see through flattery and when someone is disingenuine with their compliments. So being authentic and sincere with your desire to see your team grow and develop and in how you are helping to facilitate that professional maturity, will have your team readily coming to you for more opportunities to enhance their skills.

Isn’t that what it’s all about really? Intrinsically there is a constant desire to learn new things, to grow and evolve. To be an effective leader it’s our job to recognize that initiative; encouraging and nurturing it as we see it.

If there is one takeaway from my thoughts, lead with sincere encouragement. Take joy in the success and enthusiasm of your team.

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