A common trap for people leading teams is to subconsciously ‘put people in a box’. We think we know what they are good at and then limit our expectations of them accordingly. For example, we expect that the accounts person is only interested in the numbers, or are surprised when the driver solves a problem we have been mulling over for weeks.
Great leaders don’t limit people. They overcome their biases and unlock the potential of their teams. Many people never develop all their innate talents, and workplaces, community organisations, communities and nations suffer as a result.
Here are some tips to help unleash your team’s potential:
- Start with you, the leader. Be aware of, and challenge, your tendencies limit your expectations of others.
- Foster an organisational culture where it is safe to share ideas without being ridiculed, and safe to fail without punishment.
- Let team members implement their ideas, even if you are not convinced about a successful outcome – you might be surprised! Just set some parameters to limit the risk first.
- Provide ongoing coaching to hone skills and maximise the chances of success.
- Listen to what people are and are not saying. Indications of latent talent may be masked in a throwaway comment or in a response to ‘what would you do if…’
- Praise, commend and recognise initiative, success, and the start of something new.
- Ask your team for solutions as appropriate and garner their commitment to make the agreed plan work.
This article was first published in the Mercury Bay Informer of 3 October 2018. See www.theinformer.co.nz