First a quote: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” –Harvey S. Firestone
Farmers fertilize their fields and crops, craftspeople sharpen their tools, IT professionals upgrade their servers and software, operations people upgrade their equipment and factories. Leaders grow their people and, perhaps more importantly, other leaders.
I have long argued; you can’t grow your business if you can’t, or don’t, grow your people. Most people will barely scratch the surface of all they are truly capable of doing and accomplishing in their lives. Kind of like a 10-speed bicycle… most of us have gears we never use.
When I was a young, and an inexperienced manager, I went into my boss’s office to complain about the workers I was being asked me to manage. I suspect I was complaining about their attitudes, or perhaps their work ethic, or maybe even a combination of both. He listened patiently to my tales of woe. And then, changed my perspective and outlook on my most important role as a manager.
He explained how management, in its most basic form, is getting work done through others. Simple enough. But then he offered an expanded, and more enlightened point of view.
Part of the issue was my frame of reference… seeing the people I managed as workers, not as human beings with dreams, aspirations and hopes of a better life. He quickly added that as managers of people, we can influence careers, shape lives and most importantly, expand peoples’ capacity for success. The “work to be done” is simply the “clay” used in the process.
What a paradigm shift… workers… are people with fears, hopes, concerns, dreams, problems, aspirations and mostly untapped potential. Who would have ‘thunk’ such a thought? Not only did this paradigm shift change my outlook on my role as a manager… it ultimately changed the direction of my career. Please know I was never the model of a perfect manager, however, that simple shift in thinking allowed me to reach levels I would not have imagined early in my management career.
I have since put “people development” and “leadership development” at the center of my consulting practice and a priority focus as I begin to write the last several chapters of my career.
So today, I offer you this challenge. Starting right now, look at the people you’re managing and leading. What actions, what discussions, what opportunities can you provide for them to learn, grow and expand their capacities for success?
Figure that out. Schedule a meeting with one person this week to discuss their continued growth and development.
Maybe someday, they will be writing a blog about how you influenced and elevated their level of success, or the trajectory of their career. Just maybe you will grow other leaders who also see it as their responsibility to grow other leaders.
How will you lead differently, or better, this week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”