“A leader who produces other leaders multiplies their influences.” ― John C. Maxwell
Lots of leaders don’t see themselves as leader developers; yet when you ask them when they were most developed, you will hear these five practices mentioned pretty consistently. They served under leaders who….
1. Affirm their strengths – someone believed in them and they knew it! I don’t think we realize how much encouragement means to people. Whether it’s a straightforward “You can do it!” or a more sophisticated expression of vision of potential, what’s important is that you communicate it to your team members. Tell them specifically what talents and strengths you see in them.
2. Acknowledge their weaknesses– one of the best recommendations a mentor ever made was that I get lots of experience in an area of weakness. Her direct statement of it without judgment went something like this, “I made this recommendation, because when you get to this leadership position, you’re going to need to have grown in this area…” She saw me as I was and was committed to helping me grow. And that takes me to the next point.
3. Envision their potential – “You’d make a great ______!” Fill in the blank with what you can see that person doing in the future. Consider all the ways they current influence and imagine that 10x greater. As in points 1 & 2, you need to be able to connect the dots with their strengths and weaknesses and help work out a development plan that moves them toward that vision.
4. Pay attention– more development can happen in the teachable, unplanned moments than you might expect. A well-placed word or conversation in the midst of the action can be extremely beneficial. Catch someone doing something right and let them know. Catch someone when they’re in the midst of something going wrong and wow! it’s prime opportunity for lasting learning.
5. Give them opportunities– nothing says, “You can do it!” more than an assignment that calls out the best in a person. People grow when they step out of their comfort zone. There needs to be a good connection with their current capabilities and character, but enough stretch to provide good learning and development.
These are 5 to get you started. The key is to do them. When will you start?