I was recently invited to speak to a small group of business operators as part of the worldwide Entrepreneurs Organization. The question was – what did it take to run a successful business.
For me the answer is self evident – people. Not specifically highly motivated people, not gifted people, not super energetic people, not university educated MBAs, but everyday people. Each one an individual, with their own likes and dislikes, preferences and problems, happy days, tired days, motivated days and grey days.
My role as a manager is to take all of those individual and to mold them together to become a cohesive and effective team, to find the connection between each individual and their job, their responsibilities, their coworkers and me.
As a leader I want to bring out the best in others and to try to connect the dots…to see how each persons skills fit best into the jigsaw, to see where each persons skills can fit best against all the others. when it works we transform a group of people who may individually be only mildly effective and turn them into a spectacular team.
Blogger Bruse Kassanoff talks about looking past what’s “wrong” with others, and instead seeing what’s special about them in very pragmatic and actionable terms.
Kasanoff asks the question. – How do you do this? And offers a short list of ways you can bring out the best in others, including:
1) Let your gaze – and your attention – linger. Instead of rushing past a person, or barely acknowledging their existence, you could choose to stop and really look into their eyes. Look at their body language. Consider what they are NOT saying and NOT doing. Ask yourself why.
Consider two possibilities. One is that they have more value to add, but are unwilling (yet) to show greater initiative. Another is that they lack the confidence to utilize their “hidden” talents in a public fashion. Then look for ways to offer motivation and support.
2.) Magnify the quietest voices. Money, power, and influence often flow towards the loudest voices in an organization – but sometimes the quietest voices possess the best answers. Can you think of a way to magnify the quiet voices?
3.) Look past your own biases. Most of us are drawn to certain types of people. They might be like us, or they might simply be people who like us.
If all you do is to follow your natural instincts, then you will be blind to most of the talent on Earth. You need to cultivate an appreciation for people who think, act, and feel differently than you. This is a tremendously difficult challenge.
It’s this last skill which i believe is where leaders really show themselves. Kasanoff goes on to talk about what I consider as the most vital of leadership skills- listening….
One way to start is to make others feel important by listening, really hard – with 100% of your attention – to what they have to say. Then repeat back what they told you, so that they know you understood. It’s a small step, but an important one in the right direction.
If you only interact with people who are within your comfort zone, you will seldom achieve anything great. Almost by definition, spectacular progress requires disparate ideas and talents to come together in unprecedented ways.
Become one who cultivates talent in others. It will enrich your life and supercharge your career.
Kasanoff’s nailed it as far as I’m concerned.
Be positive always
Bruce Kasanoff (Twitter: NowPossible) is the creator of YOU AND IMPROVED! How to Know, Say and Get What You Want, a workshop for companies that want to nurture their talent. Learn more at Kasanoff.com.