The Greatest Privilege of Leadership: Developing People
As an Executive Leadership and Career Coach, I can’t recall any of my clients ever telling me that the #1 reason they wanted to be a small business owner or manager was because they wanted to spend their career developing people. But I can tell you that my best clients, my highest producing team leaders and small business owners, have learned over time that this is their #1 gift and challenge: Developing People.
People are complex. They are complicated. Like an oversized backpack, they carry with them all of their past experiences, beliefs, values, talents and skills, many of which were learned at home, at school and in other jobs. It’s no wonder it’s a challenge figuring people out – it takes time and a lot of patience to unload that pack and learn all that we need to know about our people so we can guide them in the right direction and help them be the best version of themselves that they can be. And it’s no wonder talent assessment tools and personality profiles are used so often, because we need all the help we can get taking the mystery out of WHY people do what they do, at work and in life.
So how do we master the art of people development?
It all starts with the right mindset…
One of the books I carry around with me to speaking events and team workshops is called “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done”, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. I reference their work in my coaching program; their published work focuses on Accountability and the 7 Essential Behaviors of Leaders. What continues to resonate for me is their belief that developing people is a privilege, because we are given the gift of making an impact on someone else’s life. If you’ve ever had a great teacher or an amazing boss, you know what I’m talking about here – great leadership is powerful.
For many of us, developing people starts at home, as parents. I can tell you with a joyful heart and equal years of fumbling that most of my greatest leadership lessons have been learned at home:
- “Do what you say you’re going to do”
- “Walk the walk”
- “Lead by example”
- “Treat others the way you want to be treated”
- “Tell the truth”
These are fundamental principles that apply to every family I’ve ever met and every office environment I’ve ever been in. And they are critical elements to high performance leadership. So, why is it so hard?
Know Your Leadership Style and Do the Work Your Business Needs
I ask every client I work with to describe their leadership style to me. (Coaching and developing comes very natural for some people, but it’s a real challenge for everyone else, so it’s important to learn what your style is and figure out if it aligns with your business needs!) The responses I get are across the board: Some people feel that they are exceptional at people development and dedicate most of their time to learning and development and coaching their team, while others would rather crawl under a rock and pay someone else to do it. Both responses should be respected and honored, because there are many right ways to lead and develop a team. But at the core of it, you must see the value in attracting the talent your business needs, aligning the talent with the needs of your business, and creating a professional development plan with each player to ensure they are engaged and making a positive impact. And this takes time.
Strategies can be altered. Often the business must switch gears suddenly and the execution plan has to change – we’ve all seen this in 2020 during a global pandemic. But we simply can’t take shortcuts when it comes to people development. It’s exhausting for everyone, emotionally and financially, to hire the wrong people or to hire the right people and allow them to grow stagnant – our human nature thrives on growth and ongoing development. And what sets high performers apart from everyone else I have ever worked with is the powerful mindset and belief that it is an incredible privilege to have a team member in our exquisite care; we hold them in the palm of our hand and they are counting on us to take them where they need to go, with purposeful action.
If you aren’t good at this critical part of running a business or leading a team, get help and learn to be better. Lifelong learning doesn’t end when it comes to great leadership. And you might just discover that you enjoy your business and your life a lot more when you get this part right.
This is the 3rd of six in a series of Leadership Lessons that I will be posting over the next few weeks…
Whether you are looking for coaching or you would like help with a team event…
call me direct at (425) 241-4855.
I look forward to talking with you!