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Monday, June 1, 2009

Leaders are developers...what is this, construction?

Leaders have lots of responsibilities. They have to complete their missions and deal with the day-to-day activities of their teams or groups. There are so many job duties that need to be handled and there's often one biggie gets left by the member development.

That's right, one of the integral duties of any leader, but probably the one least discussed or dealt with, is developing your people. Oh, sure, it's great to get the job done, but one of the ways you can strenghten your team is to show your people that you value them, that you think they're worthwhile, that you want to help them learn and grow and move forward.

Developing that talent in your team is key because:
1. Stronger team members make a stronger team
2. Team members who feel you value them enough to invest time, money, or other resources in them are more committed to you and the organization
3. As your organization hopefully grows, but surely changes, new leaders will be needed; new specialists will be in demand

So what are some of the ways you can develop your team members?
1. Find out what they're passionate about, what they love to do and help them try to associate that passion or love into their current job duties If Sheila loves to coach others, let her have the opportunity to coach more often and to perhaps a more diverse or larger crowd. Chances are she'll love the opportunity and exceed your and the recipient's expectations.
2. As you evaluate your team (and I'm sure you are regularly evaluating them, either formally or informally), determine their strengths and areas for improvement:
Strengths: Help them build on their strengths by giving them opportunities to showcase them to others. Give them projects that cater to those strengths. If your team member is a good writer, let him or her draft the next communication or SOP or training guide and ensure proper credit is given when it is complete.
Opportunities for improvement: No one is great at everything. If you know that Tony has untapped talent for public speaking, but his confidence level isn't as strong as it could be, push him outside his comfort zone and have him present a class to a larger audience or have him present something more complex than he's used to.

Two things -- don't go off and leave your people on their own. When you work to develop your folks, you have to ensure they have the proper support they need to succeed, and that means an investment from you. And that's the other thing...success breeds success whether it's a victory with something they like to do or a victory over something they're afraid of or don't necessarily love. When people "win", they want to "win" even more.

So, give your people the chance to grow by giving them the chance to shine. Develop their talents and you'll be glad you did. You won't have to worry about anyone noticing how wonderful you are because you're outstanding staff will do that for you.

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