Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Encourage personal excellence, part of Executive Leadership.
- Stephen Covey said "A leader is someone who sees "more potential in others than they see in themselves." I want you to pause for a moment and make that real. As you look at the people around you, one of the things that's on your mind is this, "Who is each person, truly, at their best? "What are they most capable of at their most "motivated, creative, contributing, thriving selves? "What are their strengths, and how can they "use them even more effectively?" Give it a try, look at people and see, not only what is, but what could be.
Look at people with a strong motive to find their potential. That's how the people who are most invested in our success see us. It's a great lens through which to look. It's an executive leadership lens. Executive leaders need to unleash the full potential of the people around them, for their current performance, and their future growth. You want to be the strongest advocate for your people's best selves, because if you don't believe in them, it's harder for them to believe in themselves and try to give their best effort.
They need to hear it from you, say, "I believe in you, "I know that you're capable of great things on this project, "I'm counting on you to take charge "of this effort and move it forward." Everyone has discretionary effort. They can choose to perform at a level that's good enough, or they can choose to give their very best for the task at hand and for their future development. You need to look around and realize that everyone, every day, has that choice. Are you doing what you can to help them make the choice to excel? If they don't always do it, that's normal, that's human nature, it's also a leadership opportunity.
Encouraging excellence is one of the things we want and need from our leaders to help us make the choice even when, especially when, we might shrink from it. Here's an example, a finance executive at a global media organization told me how he was sitting in for his manager, a senior vice president, at a forecasting meeting. A very large, unexpected expenditure came up, the kind of thing that's controversial and frought with implications about how to handle it. Because it was so significant, he phoned his manager who was taking the day off with her family.
He said, "I want to let you know about an important issue." Before he could explain, she said, "Adam, I trust you, "that's why you're there and I'm here. "Use your best judgment and I'll back you 100%. "I look forward to hearing about it tomorrow, "when I see you in the office." Adam told me, "That's when it really hit me, "she didn't just talk about trusting, empowering, "and encouraging excellence from everyone, "she meant it, she lived it. "Over time, I had lots of people ask me when "I was leaving my position because everyone "wanted to work for her." Notice, this is more than just empowerment.
She not only gave him room to make the decision, she committed to support his decision and to follow up with him afterward, to debrief his thought process and coach him how to handle more of those pressure-cooker situations. That's encouraging individual excellence. Because she made it a habit, there was a long line of high-talent people who wanted to work for her. Encourage individual excellence, and you earn loyalty and commitment. Here's how to do it. One, ask people, "What are the conditions under which "you perform your absolute best?" "How can you create those conditions even more often?" And "What really drives you? "How can you tap into that more often?" Help them discover this about themselves, and take charge of their situations even more, and support those conditions and drives when you can.
Two, identify the person's strengths, let them know you see them, and help them put those strengths into action even more and continue to grow them. That's what Adam's boss did, she saw more in him than he saw in himself. She backed it up, and backed him up. Three, give lots of positive reinforcement for their attempts to excel, to reach for more, and move out of the comfort zone. Whether they succeed or fall short, follow up with them to lock in their learning, and turn insights into habits. Ask, "What are your key takeaways from that meeting? "How will you apply those learnings "over the next two weeks?" Be specific.
Four, encourage them to set their own ambitious goals for both their performance and their development. Encourage them to take their own accountability plans, with feedback partners, and perhaps check-ins with you too. So, it all starts with you seeing the potential others might miss in themselves. Then keep going. Help them see it, act on it, and achieve it. Show confidence in them before they go for it. Be proud of them afterward. Help them gain insight from each attempt. Then build the personal habits to keep doing it.
Make encouraging their personal excellence a priority in your personal excellence as an executive leader.
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- Understanding the four disciplines of executive leadership
- Thinking strategically
- Creating shared purpose
- Inspiring confidence—even under pressure
- Motivating and communicating
- Establishing priorities and focus
- Leading change
- Developing yourself<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.