With Father’s Day approaching, I’m reminded of one of my dad’s favorite sayings, “She’ll learn.” He used to say that at times when I made decisions that he didn’t necessarily agree with. It was a way of allowing me to let my own experiences teach me lessons… like the time I insisted on learning how to ride my bike on my own without training wheels. I was in Kindergarten when our family lived in Boston. I crashed a number of times. Even though I didn’t want Dad’s help, I knew he was there. I learned.
In your leadership role, it’s tempting to want to guide, direct, teach or coach those you lead. And that’s a good thing. However, there are times when your team members need to learn on their own through their own experience. Sometimes you want to jump on the bike and show them how it’s done. Or you may want to help them pedal faster… or slam on the brakes!
If they need a new bike, help them get one or build one.
Let them ride.
You’ll be helping them build capability through their own experience.
To foster their development, do the following:
• Ask what they have learned recently about a success and/or failure. Have them reflect on what they did well and what they would do differently.
• Ask them to share their learning in some way. For example, they could share what they have learned in a team meeting, especially if it will help someone else.
• Challenge them to take on another task or responsibility that stretches them out of their comfort zone.
• Recognize their efforts. Yes, results are important, but you can’t win them all. Reinforcing effort will help them stay more motivated.
• Model the learning behavior you want to see in them. Let them know what you’re learning based on your own leadership experience.
You may have a strong team with great skills, but if they are not continually learning, they won’t maximize their potential.
Next time you find yourself in a typical meeting with everyone reporting in on activities or giving status updates, invite each person to share something specific they have learned through the project or through their experience with the team.
Break the “busyness” with just a little time to reflect. You’ll likely gain valuable tips, insights or ideas you may not have considered.
Try it. You’ll learn.
Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their businesses and themselves.