Unlock the potential

Image of a key in a lock shaped like a puzzle pieceDo you see the potential in your people?  Or are you spending all your time on worrying about what they cannot do while losing focus on the potential they have?  A recent article by Mary Jo Asmus, A brimming bundle of potential, got me thinking about how leaders bring out the potential in their people.  I also wonder what a difference it would make if we focused on the potential as opposed to gaps in our people.

One of our key responsibilities as leaders is to build the capabilities of our people to enable them to succeed.  Everybody has potential and we as leaders needs to harness this potential if we are to truly build capability within our organisations.

So how do the truly great leaders unlock the potential in their people?  The article by Mary Jo Asmus refers to four reasonable simple concepts that will help leaders harness that potential. Those key ideas are:

Believe in your people. If you really want to access the discretionary effort of your people, let them know that you believe in them. Everybody has potential and sometimes it just needs to be unlocked by a leader who can see what no one else can.  By showing that you believe in them will also help them start to believe in themselves.

Care about them. Leaders who really care about their people are not overly critical nor do they attack or personalise the failures. The really effective leaders use these experiences to enhance and build the experience and skills of their people.  Take the opportunity to coach and develop your people and don’t forget to listen and involve them in the decisions that affect them. This will truly show that you care.

Build their confidence. Building the confidence of your people can be challenging. One way to build that confidence is to congratulate your people when they do a great job.  Then go ahead and celebrate that success and effort in an appropriate and collaborative way.  A pat on the back can go a very long way in building confidence and demonstrating that they are heading in the right direction.

Never give up! By making the growth and development of your people one of your key goals as a leader, you are showing that you believe in them and actually care about them.   The behaviours also help to unlock the potential that is present in all of our people.  The challenge for us as leaders is how we unlock that potential.

So how are you accessing and developing the potential of your people?  Are you seeing the opportunities or the failings?  As leaders we are charged with gaining the best we can from our people.  While this is a challenge, it is one worth pursuing.

Happy leading!