I was pointed to the Powerlines for Women site yesterday, and read a quote that is certainly not just for women! It struck me as important for anyone at the start of a New Year, but it seems especially instructive for us as leaders.
We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential.
— Ellen Goodman, columnist, author and speaker
Why is it instructive for us?
Because as leaders we must look at ourselves first in terms of improvement. And when most of us do that, we look at the flaws, the things that we see as needing repair. In other words, we look at our weaknesses.
As Ms. Goodman suggests, we should at least balance that view with a view to our potential – finding those things we are doing well, and that we could enhance even further. This applies whether we are in corporate leadership, executive leadership or organizational leadership of any kind.
While this is important for us personally it is equally important for us to adjust our focus and view of those we lead. Think about how much more effective you will be in developing others through coaching and mentoring when you are focusing on their potential rather than their flaws.
Consider this one of your leadership activities today: Spend 5-10 minutes today making a list of the strengths and potentials of each of your team members. Then schedule time to give them that feedback.
It will be the most powerful thing you can do today, and when that feedback is genuine and authentic, it will be a tremendous investment in those people.
And don’t stop with those you lead, do it for the most important people in your life as well.