Have you considered that your direct reports have so much potential than what you see in them right now? Are you spending too much time focusing on what they’re not capable of while forgetting that every single person has dormant gifts just waiting to be set free? Indeed, every one of them is a brimming bundle of potential, just waiting for you to unlock the secret of their greatness.
If that sounds overtly positive, let me add that I’ve observed leaders who have taken employees that nobody else believed in from average to amazing. And that doesn’t even count those leaders who have a long track record of guiding their team members from sub-par to unbelievably incredible.
What’s the secret of leaders who can take someone further than they (and maybe everyone else) believed they could go? These leaders:
Believe in human potential: Leaders who believe that every employee has potential just waiting to burst forth are willing to put an effort into employees that nobody else will. There is always a little to a lot of potential that people are holding back, sometimes unknown to even themselves. Nobody has ever stretched their abilities before, or they have been put down so much that they don’t believe in themselves. When you believe they can go further, it can be the beginning of greatness for them.
Show they care: Leaders who believe in human potential don’t ignore or tear people down when they don’t meet their expectations; they care enough to help them learn from mistakes. They see blunders as a chance for their employees to develop. They show they care in other ways too – by listening and including them in decisions. And that caring results in employees who become stronger.
Spend time building them up: People are complex, and leaders who are able to see potential in that complexity will look for the good in everyone. They see strength and possibility when others don’t. And they use that to build people up by encouraging, congratulating, and celebrating successes. This builds confidence, lets employees know when they’re on the right track, and helps them to stretch in the right direction.
Don’t give up: Leaders who commit to growing those brimming bundles of potential are relentless. They know there is always a little more that can be discovered, something hidden just beneath the surface that will burst forth into greatness. As long as they see that spark of potential, they want to nurture it, find ways to develop it and watch it grow, even if it means that person outgrows the business or company they’re in.
Look closely. The people who work for you are holding something back, and you just might be the leader who sparks that brimming bundle of potential into becoming the Employee of the Year.