How to Tap Your Team’s Potential

Last week we started the Leadership and Career Clarity program for 45 mid-senior managers of a Fortune 500 company. When asked what they hope to gain from the program they said, “I know I’m capable of more,” and “I want to be a better leader,” and “I want to develop more confidence with my boss and my boss’s boss,” etc.

The goals they shared are variations on what I’ve been hearing from my clients for years: “I want to fulfill my potential.”

In the busy-ness of getting the day’s work done, and the week’s work done, and the month and year’s work done, it’s easy to forget that the people who work for you want to fulfill their potential.  

It’s unfortunate because tapping into that desire can shoot productivity, and personal happiness through the roof.  When your team feels good they perform better.  And that opens up more possibilities for everyone.

Then how do you help your team connect with their ambition around their potential?

  • Ask them. It may sound simple, but many managers fail to ask their direct reports about their professional and personal goals.
  • Notice what they do well. Pay attention to what energizes your team members. Be careful here. Work that you want to get off your plate and that a loyal employee does well, is not always where their core strengths and interests are.  
  • Give them specific feedbackStrengths Finder 2.0 talks about the impact of specific, positive feedback. Going beyond, “good job!” and being specific about connecting someone’s actions to positive impact is a powerhouse.
  • Provide stretch goals. In The Confidence Code, the authors talk about taking action. We don’t become confident by figuring everything out so we avoid a mistake; we gain confidence by taking action.
  • Help them develop a path to growth. It can be scary to ask about hopes and dreams when you know there may not be promotions readily available, or that the person’s performance doesn’t warrant it. Consider that growth isn’t always linear. It may be about up-leveling skills. Sometimes growth means the person leaves the group or even the organization. And while that has costs, being a “growth boss” can also get you noticed by other high performers in the company.
  • And finally, remember the inner critic.  A lot of clients tell me they don’t know what they want. I actually think that they don’t believe they can have it.  Providing positive feedback and stretch goals is a powerful way to build their confidence, so they actually believe.
As a leader, you don’t have to carry all the burden of motivating people. By tapping into their energy around their hopes and dreams, you share the work.

If you want to learn more about how to deliver breakthrough results by tapping into your team’s potential, let’s have a conversation.

All my best,
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