Ah, that is always the catch. Great theory, but how do we put it into practice. Let me share a few thoughts or ideas from my experience.
It’s time to stop assuming that people know the basics of personal motivation and self-management. For some reason, we oftern assume that somebody else is teaching these lessons so we don’t need to do it. Instead, we focus on teaching the technical skills of a job and forget about the foundational lessons. By foundational, here is what I mean.
1. Self awareness – We should be exposing our employees to tools and resources that help them begin to understand their own strengths, weaknesses, talents and limitations. I have used the Predictive Index, Gallup Strengthsfinder, Myers Briggs, and many other tools over the years as a way to get people to start thinking about who they are and how that impacts what they do. Self-awareness begins to empower people to be more effective because they can more fully embrace what they bring to a situation or conversation.
2. Attitude Management: The most important lesson I ever learned was this: “You can’t control what happens to you. And, you can’t control how other people are going to react to what happens. The only thing you can truly control is your attitude.” This was the most empowering lesson I’ve ever learned. It’s simple in explanation, but difficult in practice. How are we teaching our employees this lesson? Why don’t we have more corporate training programs on managing our attitude? Think of the productivity impact of teaching our employees not to allow their environment to control their attitude.
3. Leading without title. This lesson is about learning that we can be a leader at any point in our career. It’s not a title that makes us a leader, it’s our impact on those around us. As leaders, we should be teaching our teams how to lead themselves, starting very early in their career. This is about sharing lessons around the importance of influence, perception, authenticity and integrity. It’s sharing the lessons that aren’t intuitive to learn and that aren’t often shared with us until after we’ve made a major mistake that might be career limiting.
There are a lot of other things that could be and need to be taught. These three are just a place to start. In a phrase, it’s not about teaching people how to do their job but instead teaching them the tools to be effective in everything they do.
If we successfully do this, it will start to help the load lighten on our leaders’ shoulders because the followers will be empowered and equipped to help lead.