As a business owner or a team leader, your job is to bring out the best in your team and to help everyone grow and improve. This includes yourself. This should be the top priority for any leader who wants to generate effective and efficient results AND have the most fulfillment in their job.
It’s rare indeed; however, to find a leader who not only believe this but puts it into practice. The reasons for this vary by leader, but often times it boils down to this… often times, the best problem solvers are promoted to leadership positions. And problem solvers do what problem solvers do… they keep solving problems. And as a new leader, they now face the challenge of even more problems to solve which stretches their abilities and can lead to burnout. And the more problems a leader solves, the more problems his or her team bring to them to solve. This creates an unfortunate cycle of unsustainable behavior where the leader feels overwhelmed with all the work (problems) they have and the team feels like they must bring all the problems to the leader.
So, what’s the antidote?
The key is to realize that your primary job is to lead, not solve problems. Once you start to work on this, you’ll start to see your team step up to take on more and more work because they start to realize that you are not there to solve every problem. And they start to feel empowered by you to be creative and solve the challenges on their plates. And this empowerment allows others to step up and become leaders themselves.
Here are a few of the things that you can do to bring out the leader in each of your team members.
1. Be Their Leader
If you want to bring out the leader in others, you must first model leadership for them. Think of the very best leaders and model their behavior. You want your employees to look up to you as their role model. This is a lifelong journey so continue to study leaders as you grow into the leader you want to be.
2. Encourage More Input
More often than not, employees are filled with fresh ideas that they are too afraid to share because they don’t think anyone, especially their manager, wants to hear. This is why you need to constantly encourage your employees to voice their ideas. Make sure they know that feedback is actively encouraged. Your job is to make every single person feel safe so that they can do so effectively. If you get the sense that someone is “holding back” on you, then you haven’t done your job yet. Stay focused on building the relationship until they start to open up more and more to share feedback and ideas.
3. Engage Everyone
Whenever you’re in a meeting room, try to engage everyone in the conversation and listen to what they have to say. Don’t forget to thank them for their input. Obvious? Yes. Practiced? Rarely. Too often leaders don’t take the time to actively listen to what their team is saying. The best way to actively listen is to ask open-ended questions. Creating this discipline will encourage others to express their opinions more often.
4. Get to Know Each Employee
You can’t help motivate your employees if you don’t know anything about them. Make time for one-on-one meetings with each of your team member to get to know them better. Even quick, informal conversations go a long way in building relationships. The more you know about them, the more you can nurture their leadership potential.
5. Reward Good Performances
If an employee impresses you with great ideas that help the team moving forward, don’t forget to acknowledge them. The best way to show them that you appreciate their contribution is to acknowledge it in a very specific way. Instead of say, “John, great job” be more specific and say, “John, the way you treated that customer yesterday afternoon was great. You listened to what they had to say and asked 4 questions to make sure you really understood their concern.”
6. Motivate Your Employees
Once you have gotten to know each employee better, figure out what motivates them personally. When in doubt, ask them. That way you’ll know exactly what motivates them and they’ll get the exact recognition that they need. And as they get the recognition that they need, they will be motivated to produce more of the same results. This will create a virtuous cycle.
7. Create a Sense of Urgency
You want your employees to be proactive and act fast. By creating a sense of urgency and letting them know exactly what is expected of them, they will be more driven to fulfill their role and contribute more to the company.
8. Empower Them to Make Decisions
Every good leader needs to be able to make hard decisions. You can bring out the leader in your employees by giving them a chance to make major decisions regarding their jobs. This will show that you trust them to be in charge, and it will help them to be more confident in themselves as well.
9. Build a Coaching Culture
Everyone struggles to see how their attitude and actions impact others. This is why coaching is so critical because it allows everyone to help each other to see how their behavior impacts others. As a leader, you should be able to let them know what they could do to better themselves as well as tell them what you want them to keep on doing. This will encourage them to be the best version of themselves while prompting them to work on their weaknesses effectively.
And the very best way to get your team to ask for coaching is to ask them for coaching.
And it can be as simple as this,
“John, what could I start doing that would help you the most in your role?”
A leader must build relationships strong enough where this is not only ok to do, but it is welcomed by others who have a genuine desire to constantly improve. The key is to never offer coaching unless the other person asks for it.
Coaching is only coaching if it is asked for.