4 Ways Leaders Help People Grow

The final facet of Engage and Develop Others is to develop others.  For some leaders this comes very naturally and for others it is a discipline that must be cultivated.  Regardless of the ease or rigor required, the leaders we admire the most figure this out.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to help people grow.  This is a topic we’ll certainly revisit in the future.  For now, here are four things you can do as a leader to help those around you grow.
Share what you’re learning.  This does a couple of things – it models the desired behavior.  You’re demonstrating that you are learning. This makes your encouragement for others to be a life-long learner more credible.  Assuming you do it well, it also influences the behavior of the person or group you’re sharing with.  They should derive some value from what you’re sharing.
Ask great questions.  When we ask questions, we’re helping others think.  When we give answers, we often deprive them of the chance to learn and grow.  Jim Collins talks about the need for leaders to become Clock-builders vs. Time-tellers.  One of the practices he encourages is to double your current ratio of questions to statements.  Questions help people grow.
Share opportunities.  You and I often have opportunities that others on our team do not.  We’re often invited to meet with people and go places because of our position in the organization.  Take people with you.  Send them on your behalf.  Expand their world every chance you get.
Provide challenging work.  How did you learn to lead?  If you’re like most leaders, there were several significant factors – people, training, resources, time, etc.  If we each made a list like this, we would find we all included actually leading something.  The truth is that most of us learn the majority of what we know about leadership from leading.  Actual hands-on experience helps people grow the most.  Don’t miss the value of giving your people challenging work.
These are just a few ideas to jump start your thinking.  If you haven’t devoted focused attention to this part of your role, give it a try.  You may discover that helping people grow is one of the most satisfying things you do as a leader.
How do you help your people grow?  Share your thoughts and I’ll report back in a future post.

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Steve Plunkett

11 years ago

I have found that one of the most essential elements of growth that leaders often shelter those that they serve from is the ability to struggle at a task, and learn from it! As parents, teachers and business leaders, we have to be careful that we do not confuse short term struggle with "failure". Some of my greatest growth moments came from wrestling with a task without a leader taking it away to protect me! If my Dad had made me stop riding a bike the first time that I fell, then I would never have learned to ride! Growth can sometimes hurt, and leaders must be wise in some situations to allow temporary "growing" pains to avoid a more severe consequence in the future! As Thomas Fuller once said; "A stumble may prevent a fall."


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