And not the financial kind of investment—investment in your team, in your colleagues, in that one co-worker you don’t really like very much. What does that look like?
Bother to take the time. Notice what people around you are doing, saying, or not doing and saying. Pay attention. Stop running around with your hair on fire and see what’s going on around you. Don’t just catch people making mistakes; catch them doing things right. Then acknowledge them. You’ll be amazed by how much that inspires people to keep trying hard.
Get up front agreements from your team about goals, objectives, ways to measure success, deadlines, consequences, all of it. The clearer the path you can create together, the easier it will be to put true accountability in place. Up front agreements also have the benefit of creating more ownership of all that stuff. When an employee or colleague owns a deadline, they are much more likely to meet it, or even beat it.
See what they can’t see. When I was in my early 20’s, I was a bull in a china shop. I ran over a lot of people. I was a good listener, as long as it was to give my own input. I never hesitated to speak my mind, but without diplomacy or regard for how the person on the receiving end might feel. I was passionate but way too raw. I had drive but was unfocused. Had it not been for a small handful of people who saw my unrefined state as tons of potential instead of just a train wreck waiting to happen, I would never have had the confidence or courage to develop myself.
As leaders, we need to see that raw potential in others, and nurture it. Often people are too close to see what may be obvious to others. That’s true for the good and the bad. We are very often blind to our own potential. Instead we inadvertently expose moments of talent to others, and if those others don’t point out the glimpses of potential, they go undeveloped.
Establish, cultivate, and deepen trust. This must be ongoing, intentional, and consistent to be effective. Everything we do must reinforce the notion that we can be counted upon. This shows up in the smallest ways, including keeping our word, revealing our own fallibility, asking questions instead of slinging accusations, and going out of our way for others. These are among the easiest things to say, and the hardest to do on a consistent basis.
All of the things on this list are easy to say and hard to do, day in and day out. That’s why real leadership requires investment—investment of your time, your energy, and your intentionality. The payoffs (great team members, higher performance from everyone, and more successful companies) are well worth the efforts. Leave us a comment and tell us your story.