Tag Archives: talent

Understand Yourself to Become a Leader

The Wizard

Image by seanmcgrath via Flickr

You must understand yourself in order to be an impactful leader able to generate change. Everyone has unique aspects to them that were shaped and molded by a number of influences over accumulated years. People may possess skills or talents that none of their coworkers knew they had. All of these tidbits add up to create the diverse person that you are today. Understanding yourself and what motivates you is one component of becoming a leader worth following. Phil Cooke tells us more about understanding ourselves and what that can do for our personal brand.

Probably the most powerful gift these leaders had was an understanding of who they were and what their talent and calling were about.

That's something worth repeating: Probably the most powerful gift these leaders had was an understanding of who they were and what their talent and calling were about.

Having an accurate understanding of what makes you unique and different is absolutely critical. For many, an accurate understanding is obscured or undermined by a lack of professionalism, bad ideas, poor taste, inept leadership, insecurity, lack of people skills, bad assumptions, and more. These sorts of things plague many leaders today and hamper their effectiveness.

What makes you different from all the others competing for your position?

…More at Your Best Brand Asset Is Understanding Yourself | Fast Company

We all grew up in different circumstances and therefore had different environments that helped to shape a unique point of view. Understanding this distinctiveness can help you get ahead as a leader because of a deeper knowledge of yourself. People intuitively know when a person is passionate about something they are doing. Exhibiting passion about something you love is a great way to engage people to follow your leadership. In order for this to happen you must know and understand yourself to become the leader you want to be.

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Developing Employee Potential for Leaders

Child Tending Broken Baby Seedling

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

Potential. Everyone has some “potential”, but what does this mean? It means a proven ability to do well and it should be a goal of every leader to maximize the potential of their team. A leader needs to provide encouragement and instruction to nurture potential in their employees. 

Executive coach Joel Garfinkle gives us five ways to develop talent and unleash the potential of our teams. 

1. Give employees time to focus. With the frenetic pace of business, it's easy to get lost in a sea of deadlines and shifting priorities. The best leaders encourage employees to spend time absorbed in a single project or area of focus—especially when it's a stretch assignment that will challenge their abilities.

Some of the most innovative companies in the country put a priority on free or flexible time. For example, Google developers and engineers receive “20 percent time”—eight hours a week they can devote solely to projects of their choice. Likewise, Bell Labs—one of the biggest American innovators of all time—gave scientists and engineers the opportunity to spend years researching a single product.

2. Promote the value of learning. Leaders should be on a constant lookout for professional development opportunities. Taking time to focus on learning helps employees crystallize their goals and determine what skills and areas of growth are most important to them.

As I mentioned, General Electric is one example of a company that places a premium on promoting the value of professional development and learning. The company has a Chief Learning Officer and spends $1 billion a year in training its employees through the GE Global Learning initiative. That's about $3,500 per year for each of their 290,000 employees.

3. Ask lots of questions. It's no secret that leadership requires clear and effective communication. When it comes to developing talent, leaders should focus on the listening side of the communication equation. Find out what's important to employees, what experience they have, where they see themselves in the future, and what excites them about the company.

Colin Powell nicely sums up the importance of listening and effective communication: “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.” His words are just as true in the corporate world as they are in the military one.

4. Give frequent, specific feedback. It's far too easy for managers to only give feedback during performance reviews or to offer vague platitudes. The best mentors provide quality feedback that's timely, genuine, and focused on desired behaviors. It's also important to be positive and forgo any personal judgments.

To reinforce how critical providing quality feedback is, try Googling “leaders and the importance of feedback.” The search yields over 18 million results (and lots of good advice).

5. Treat failure as an opportunity for improvement. Nobody likes failure, but everybody enjoys saving face. When employees fail, they're often at their most vulnerable. And that's a good thing. It means they're open to receiving feedback, trying new approaches, and improving areas of weakness. Stay positive as you help your team members take advantage of these opportunities.

Some of the most meaningful learning in my life has been in response to failure. A beloved high school teacher of mine often used the mantras, “Failure is a better teacher than success,” and, “The bigger the failure, the bigger the lesson.” Obviously, no one wants to encourage failure, but it's important to realize that it will happen—and embrace it for what it is: a learning opportunity.

…More at The Myth of Potential: 5 Ways to Develop Talent

Developing potential is an ongoing process that every leader should be actively undertaking. Without performing these five development techniques you may be losing out on increased productivity and creativity. True innovation can be gained by allowing teams time to focus and an ability to fail. Great leaders allow their employees to succeed by inspiring them to excellence. 

 
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