One of the most profound lessons of leadership I learned while quite young (thankfully) is that selling people short is a mindset that will absolutely NOT move our organization toward better performance.
By assuming that some on the team were incapable - of the work assigned, of the effort required, of the learning needed - I accomplished several very unhelpful outcomes:
-It gave the low performers a free pass to stand down in their investment of effort.
-It added more work to the others on the team.
-It generated debilitating frustration for everyone involved.
-It fostered resentment among and between members of the team.
Organizational performance suffered. Surprise!
What did I learn from the experience? First, I looked in the mirror. Then, I began to take a coaching approach in working with those around me. It's a pretty simple set of strategies:
-View everyone as a bundle of exceptional potential.
-Assume and communicate the expectation that everyone on the team will grow, learn, and perform in a continuous improvement mindset.
-Provide clear guidance about where we're going and what we're trying to achieve, but afford reasonable autonomy to all in pursuing those goals.
-Monitor constantly, engage relentlessly, inquire with persistent intentionality.
-Assess steadily for Willingness and Ability: Quickly separate from the Unwilling and intensify the coaching/support for those who appear Unable to currently perform as needed.
Yes, such individualized coaching and constant monitoring are time sucks for the leadership. The alternative is de-energizing for everyone and results dependably in circling the drain organizationally.
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