One of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to enable and see that people work to their potential. After all, it’s a great win-win strategy for organizations and also employees. Not to forget that effective leaders can gain as much as 2X more contribution from their teams compared those who are not (Wiseman & McKeown, HBR , May 2010) .
Is this item on your agenda? Is it receiving due attention? Important questions to reflect.
If you at the top pay attention to it for your direct reports, please be assured that your 2nd rung of the leaders and the rest will start falling in line and It’s a matter of time before it becomes a way of working in the organization.
While there are many ways to enable people to work at their potential, let me share a few ideas based on the work of Glenn Llopis – an entrepreneur, a senior executive, an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, contributor to HBR , Forbes and Entrepreneure on leadership strategy and author of many best-selling books.
1. Encourage them to be themselves:
Everyone has a ‘default setting’ i.e. their natural preferences, ways of thinking and acting- their authentic identity. Great leaders embrace that and build off the strengths of their people, rather than expecting them to follow their (leaders’) ways thinking and acting.
As people gain confidence in their authentic identities, the roadmap to their advancement starts unfolding and they keep progressing to enhance and realize their potential.
2. Grow their decision-making abilities:
It’s at decision points that peoples’ capability is stretched to the limits. Great leaders use these opportunities not only to give ready solutions but also to understand what is limiting the person to take a call – inadequate information/understanding of the situation; ability to anticipate consequences- obvious and not so obvious; in near term and long term and so on. Based on the same, they guide the person, slowly reducing their dependence on the leader.
3. Expand their performance tolerance threshold:
Great leaders keenly observe and understand the threshold of their people – to handle volumes, new challenges and adversities. They work with them in these areas to understand the fears and sometimes self-imposed limitations and encourage and guide them to go beyond what they think they can handle. As people gain confidence, their thresholds change.
4. Surround them with high potential people:
When a person works with people who handle bigger challenges and risks, his/her own confidence also grows.
The people you want to develop, put them on assignments where your high potential people to crack major challenges. As they work with them, their own confidence to take chances/risk also grows.
To varying degrees, everyone has potential. How far are we able to take it, is a function of how well we nourish it.
Are you doing enough to nourish and leverage the potential? Take help, where required.