There are so many things to discourage employees from reaching their full potential, that a good part of the work of great leadership should include encouraging the magnificence in them. Positive, inspiring encouragement that is heartfelt and focused on present reality and future potential in others is rare indeed in our organizations.
Positive encouragement is important to lifting your leadership and your organization up to the next level. In addition to hiring well and providing critical feedback, you also need to encourage well. This requires seeing beyond your critical eye and observing what is good in others, discovering what they do well, and watching for hidden potential in them.
You can’t do the great work you’re doing without good – and great – employees. Slow down enough to observe your employees so you can realize what they are good at and witness the potential they have to become something great.
What is good in them? Many leaders are extremely critical, seeing only the things that need to be “fixed” in others, particularly those whose personalities rub them the wrong way. Yet if you can focus on finding the good, you might be surprised and delighted at what you see. It’s the first step toward discovering latent potential in them.
What do they currently do well? Similar, but different from finding the good in your employees, notice what they are skilled at and do well. Consider how you might capitalize on it, nurture and encourage it. There might be some special projects they can take off your hands or a team assignment that will suit their skills.
What is their future potential? You must also look beyond what they are doing well now to imagine what they are capable of. Sometimes, potential is dormant, so watch closely. When you see that your employees are capable of more than they are doing, you’ll need to stretch them. How can you help them to grow? (p.s. try asking them; high potential employees often know exactly the challenges that will stretch them).
How do you encourage them? The thing that I hear most from employees is that their managers don’t provide enough encouragement. It’s hard for them to know when they’re on the right path without it. Now that you are observing the good in them, what they do well, and what is possible, make it a part of every meeting you have to let them know all of the positives that you’re observing.
Your job is not only to be critical of others and what they do, but to see what’s good, what their skills are, and to clear the way for their potential to come forward. What magnificence are you observing in your employees, and how are you encouraging it?