While sitting in a conference room during work for the start-up organization of which I am a part, I took a moment and noticed the surrounding walls. On one wall there was nothing, just a blank grayish blue color. On the adjacent side, it was a wall with two windows and a brownish red, serving as the accent wall. The other two walls also had the grayish blue color, but on these walls stood two of those framed posters with small quotes or ideas. Perhaps you have seen them before?
One was titled, “Leadership.” It said below that “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”
The other was titled, “Goals.” It read that, “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”
Putting these two ideas together I think is fitting. They reflect a notion of human potential. Neither implies that people are perfect. But both imply that they have the potential to be better, to grow, to achieve and succeed, to accomplish, and to learn. I think a core part of leadership is the ability to enable others to not only see themselves as part of something bigger than themselves (a larger organizational piece around mission/purpose/vision/values), but also on the individual side the ability to encourage, inspire, and enable others to discover and grow and desire to grow.
Some people might call this mentoring. Others might call this education or formation. For me, I see this as collaborative partnership and teamwork. What good is having a team of people who are not growing and desiring to grow, but are much more content to just keep things the same? One of the first rules of business and organizations is to always question everything and never assume. Things change, life changes, and if your group or work does not change along with those changes or at least recognize its changed position in relationship to them, the future is going to be a whole lot more difficult and challenging to be a part of. (To quote Darwin, “change or die.”) In order to face those changes, one has to have a desire to grow both in themself and how they see themselves in relationship to the larger organization, community(s), and the world.
There has to be a willingness to try to grow, and a desire to do that growing, even though growth might be hard. Think back to when you were a child or teenager and you were in the midst of a growth spurt. Do you remember those literal growing pains? The ones where your legs ached for no reason? Well, if you don’t remember that feeling, think back to the figurative growing pains you have experienced in life- where long held assumptions you might have held were questioned or downright disproven? That’s a hard feeling. But through that challenge comes growth.
How do you as a leader, enable others (whom you may lead) and embolden them to grow?