#3 The Challenges of Leadership – Developing Employees

This is the third article in our series on the 6 Common Challenges of Leadership, based on a white paper by William A. Gentry, Regina H. Eckert, Sarah A. Stawiski, and Sophia Zhao.  So far, we’ve looked at Developing Managerial Effectiveness, and Inspiring Others

Developing Employees is described as “The challenge of developing others, including topics around mentoring and coaching.”  Whereas our first article spoke to the development of the relevant skills needed to manage a department, especially when you’ve worked your way up a chain and have reached a position without necessarily being strong in all the required leadership skills; developing employees speaks to the human element of building relationships and the growth of direct reports and team members.  A leader’s ability to build and maintain relationship with the rest of their team is paramount to maintaining a connection within that team, inspiring others and being able to lead them towards a combined goal.

If you’re a hard line, goal oriented, results driven leader, then you may be asking how much ROI you get on this degree of personalised input.  We’ve previously used the Cogs Analogy to describe the relationship between the hard lines necessary to drive and measure business success, and the grease required to make it turn smoothly.  This relationship with your team and your ability to develop them as employees is part of that grease.

Growth is one of our 6 Core Human Needs and without it, we develop a deep seated rumble of internal dissatisfaction.  Every person, on every level, has a wish to grow somehow – if given the opportunity.  Offering this growth adds not only to developing up and coming leaders who reach a position equipped with the necessary skills to lead, but it also goes a long way to helping to generate the energy that inspires others.  Growth and development can come in a myriad of different ways, and as long as you can find a way to inspire and drive growth that enhances and gives back to your business, then it’s a win / win situation.

Developing your employees around mentoring and coaching assumes that you have something worth sharing with them.  Many of us don’t necessarily believe that we do.  This point was driven home to me whilst reading Brendon Burchard’s book “Millionaire Messenger”.  He asked how many of us have ever paid $5 online for someone to help us write our CV, or something similar.  Not because we’re not all capable of writing a CV, but because someone else’s experience allows them to do it more efficiently and a little better than us.

Every single one of us has our own, unique life experience.  From that experience flows our own unique strengths and perspective on life and how we live it.  This means that every single one of us has something to share with another.  Perhaps you’re super good at time management, or spreadsheets, or balancing time with your kids.  Perhaps you’re bolstered by your faith, have had formative experience in running a team, or are particularly good at solidifying customer relations.

You may have a whole team of people who have skills worth sharing with each other.  You may be able to mentor or coach them individually.  You may prefer to find outside ways of introducing new information.  There are so many avenues available today that training and development doesn’t have to cost a kidney.

Leaders who develop employees make the time to develop their relationship with those employees so that they create a safe space to find out what their team mates’ needs are.  They figure out how to align those needs with the health of their business and then they facilitate the development of those team members towards mutual benefit.  Sometimes, it’s about helping to develop particular skills.  Sometimes it’s about mentorship, advice and support.  Sometimes it’s just about facilitating the growth of that person so that their inspired energy can add back into your system.

When was the last time you walked “the floor” and had conversations with your team to find out how they’re doing on a personal level?  What methods do you use to “dip test” the energy in your team?  Is it possible that growth and development is what’s lacking if the energy is low, or what could be used to introduce renewed energy if energy has leaked elsewhere?  Inspiring people is one thing, but inspiring them only towards your cause without offering them personal and professional growth at the same time is a one-sided equation that will run dry at some stage.  People grow in different ways – some wish to expand themselves in a quiet space that allows them to develop more precision; others want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  How can you inspire and lead the individual needs of your people towards the greater energy and good of your team?

If you’re looking for a way to “dip test” your team energy and business direction, our End the Year Strong Q4 Assessment may be for you.  Find out more on our Events Page.

by Christen Killick

September 9th, 2019

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