Have you ever noticed people who’ve got a title without any corresponding talent?
Of course you have. You’ve seen so-called leaders (team leaders, supervisors, managers, directors, vice presidents, etc.) at work, who know almost nothing about leading others. And you’ve seen people in your neighborhood who are called parents, but they seldom “parent” their kids.
By contrast, the most effective leaders combine title and talent. In particular, they use three strategies that bring out the best in others.
Pay attention. Because you can use these same three strategies to bring out the best in others as well.
1. Exhibit a strong belief in the people you are leading.
For the most part, the people around you know how you feel about them and what you expect from them. And to a great extent they will live up or down to your expectations.
So ask yourself: What do you expect of other people … deep down? Do you expect them to perform well? Or do you expect them to goof up, slide by, and slack off without your constant supervision?
Some leaders really struggle with this simple concept of positive expectations and believing in others. They’re convinced that some people on their team will never amount to anything.
Take, for example, these excerpts from actual performance reviews. It’s obvious from the comments that these bosses did not believe in their employees.
- “Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom … and has started to dig.”
- “This employee is really not so much a ‘has-been,’ but more of a definite ‘won’t-be’.”
- “This young lady has delusions of adequacy.”
- “He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”
- “This employee should go far … and the sooner he starts the better.”
By contrast, highly effective people believe in others. Highly effective leaders know that everyone on their team has a vast reservoir of untapped potential. And using the right approach, these leaders help their people release and use their untapped potential.
So what is the right approach? It starts with understanding.
2. Show your understanding of the people you are leading.
Plato talked about that hundreds of years ago. He understood the importance of understanding. He said,
“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how small.”
And he was right. You wouldn’t criticize your one-year old child who kept falling down when he was learning to walk. You wouldn’t say, “You look really stupid stumbling around … or … What’s wrong with you anyway? … or … I can’t wait all day for you to learn what you should have learned last week.”
No, you would show a patient understanding of your child’s learning process. You would encourage him every little step of the way. And you should lead the other people in your life and at work the same way.
I like the way author Thich Nhat Hanh puts it. He tells us to treat people like lemon trees — with understanding. In his book called Interbeing, Thich says, “When we grow a lemon tree, we want it to be vigorous and beautiful. But, if it isn’t vigorous and beautiful, we don’t blame the tree. We observe it in order to understand why it isn’t growing well. Perhaps we have not taken good care of it.”
“We know it is funny to blame a lemon tree, but we do blame human beings when they are not growing well. But human beings are not very different from lemon trees. If we take good care of them, they will grow properly. Blaming never helps. Only love and understanding can help people change.”
The right approach to bringing out the best in others starts with your understanding. And then it moves on to certain behaviors you must exhibit.
That’s what Cheryl Stevens from Tyco Healthcare learned. As she says, “I attended your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program five years ago and I have to say that your program has been the most positive and influential aspect in my life these last five years. For example, the VP at Tyco Healthcare approached me and inquired whether or not I would be interested in becoming the regional sales manager for Southern California. He started listing skill sets, character traits, and leadership qualities he had witnessed in me … the exact things I learned at your Journey program. And I got the job.”
F.Y.I. I’ve gotten hundreds of similar letters from other participants in my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience. I invite you to register for the next Journey, coming to Kansas City on April 19-20, 2018. And if you register by January 31st, you will save $600 on your tuition.
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For more information about the Journey and what you will learn, click here.
Finally, to be an effective leader who brings out the best in others, you’ve got to …
3. Pass the 5-point leadership quiz every day.
In his book, Don’t Fire Them, Fire Them Up, Frank Pacetta says if you can answer “yes” to all of these statements, you’re an effective leader. I agree.
In fact, I would urge to take this quiz now and then take this quiz at the end of every work day. It will transform your leadership effectiveness.
- I recognized someone in my group today with a sincere thank-you or some other form of recognition. (If you’re not doing that, you’re not bringing out the best in others.)
- I taught, coached, or motivated someone in my group today. (If you’re not sure, you need to be asking the people in your group how they feel about it.)
- I listened to one or more people in my group today. (If you answered “yes,” write down what you learned. If you can’t remember, you didn’t really listen.)
- I can name three leadership techniques I used with members of my group today. (Okay then, name them. Write them down.)
- I can see that every member of my group is meeting my expectations. (If you say “no,” outline on paper what you will do to improve their performance.)
Hopefully you are able to say “yes” to all five statements every day. If not, do something about it.
Bringing out the best in others is not a guessing game. It is exactly what you will be doing when you follow my advice in this Tuesday Tip.
Happy New Year!
Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 916 – 3 Best Ways to Bring Out the Best in Others