One of my favorite things to witness as the leader of a business is the personal growth and development of the people around me. It is simply amazing to see what happens when leaders step out of the way and empower their employees to take risks and make things happen.
As it turns out, your employees are capable of more than you know. They can find new ways to solve old problems that are more creative and more impactful than what you have done in the past, but they are likely waiting on you, the leader, to give them permission.
Most of us cannot even see that we are the ones enabling this passive behavior with our words and actions when we should be in the background serving as coaches and advocates for the efforts of our employees. By giving real responsibility to our team, not only do we increase the chances of a better solution, but we also provide an outlet for growth and formation.
Work is formative. When work is done to the best of our abilities, with real responsibility and genuine effort, it is both dignified and fulfilling. When we embrace this reality then we are answering our calling as leaders, creating organizations that promote human flourishing.
But there is a common pitfall that happens to even the best leaders. We focus on the output and praise the successful production while forgetting to praise the person and appreciate the effort. By over-emphasizing the results, we are removing the formation part of the equation. If an employee’s efforts lead to disappointing results or the project fails, our organizations are still improved by the lessons and the knowledge gained by the people involved.
Appreciate the person. Let your team know that you appreciate how diligently they are attacking an opportunity and that you love the way they are learning from everything to do, even in failure.
Say the words “I appreciate you” and see the response. It is edifying to your team to hear those words without the modifiers that often come with them. “I appreciate you. Tell me more about how this project has helped you to grow.”
We should always acknowledge the times we win and the times our expectations are not met but that mindset can be balanced by a consistent appreciation for the person and how they have matured through those experiences.
Building great teams take intention but you can retrain your muscle memory to improve your overall impact.