You Can’t Lead if You Can’t Develop

/You Can’t Lead if You Can’t Develop

You Can’t Lead if You Can’t Develop

There are three realities in leadership:

  1. Leaders are defined by their results.
  2. The act of leadership is about the ability to influence others to accomplish the desired result.
  3. You will never succeed at your first two responsibilities if you can’t or won’t develop others to excel in their work.

You place a self-imposed lid on the opportunities for your team and yourself when you assume that the team’s expectations and potential are defined by the talent they have available.

The best leaders understand that their ability to grow and develop others creates the exponential leverage that is essential for consistently delivering results. More bluntly, you get better performance when you develop better performers. You get more sales when you have better sales people. You get more effective leadership when you grow better leaders.

Your Job in Developing Others

Here is your job when it comes to developing the talents of others:

  • Inspire and motivate: The stereotypical image of an athletic coach giving his team a motivational speech is one model for inspiring others, but it isn’t the only one. In fact, it is the absolute worst thing you can do with some groups Many people tune out when you start telling everyone to “win one for the Gipper.” Giving sincere recognition for a person’s contribution and effort works. So does a stretch assignment or visibly connecting the individual’s personal goals to the accomplishment of the team’s goals. An effective leader continually looks for ways to keep people motivated and engaged toward achieving results.
  • Instruct and develop: The best and worst performing member of an athletic team, dance troupe or a symphony orchestra, share something in common. They both receive instruction and coaching to improve their performance every day. Their development is a proactive plan based on the needs of the organization, their individual strengths and weaknesses and their personal goals. Why should it be any different for your organization?
  • Correct and encourage: Correcting and redirecting performance and behavior that doesn’t meet expectations is an important part of a leader’s job. The only person who never makes a mistake is the one who never tries something new. There is a fine line between correcting and punishing, however. A person who feels unfairly punished quickly learns to do just the minimum. That is why correction must always be combined with encouragement if the goal is to build long-term commitment. The purpose of correction is to return the individual’s performance to accepted levels and create an environment where they are encouraged to sustain and enhance that performance.

Where Do You Invest Your Time?

Look at the three responsibilities again. Where do you devote your time and energy today?

If the answer is “correct and encourage,” you should set a new priority and reallocate your time commitment. Time invested in inspiring, motivating, instructing and developing minimizes the need for correcting. And the credibility you earn from proactively helping someone succeed will minimize the potential for hard feelings when you do have to correct another’s performance.

Here’s the news: Your and your team will never consistently achieve amazing results if you can’t or won’t develop others. You can’t effectively lead unless you can effectively develop others.