If you want to become a leader who adds value to other people’s lives and to the life of your organization, and who helps people reach their full potential, how do you get started? What do you do? As a leader, I have found that I cannot move the ball forward with positive, nurturing leadership until I engage with those I am blessed to lead.
Once I’ve engaged with them, I am able to educate and equip them. Throughout the process, it is essential to encourage, empower, and energize in order to finally elevate the people around me. It’s time to get in the game. Here are the 7 E’s of helping others reach their full potential.
Effective leaders walk alongside the people they lead—and they love every step. They spend time with their teams and find ways to understand each member. As a 50-something coach working with millennial athletes, I had to find ways to plug in, whether by hiring young coaches or enlisting my teenage son’s help as a “consultant.” Anything that opens up the lines of communication and allows us to engage others is a step in the right direction.
Leadership needs to be about helping others become the best they can be. It’s built on a foundation of teaching. Our goal should be to help everyone earn an A, or whatever the equivalent measure of success is in our organizations. Leaders must not be content merely to teach the group from the front of the room; they must take a hands-on, one-on-one approach and mentor individual lives. By providing others with the opportunity to grow, we help them become even more valuable members of the team, even as we’re building the overall strength of the team.
Chuck Noll said, “Our job as a coaching staff is to show you what to do and how to do it. Your job as players is to do it consistently.” Leaders need to create an environment in which others can be productive and excel. They set parameters and guidelines for the task, project and continually recast the vision, and then provide the tools and equipment needed for everyone else to be successful in their assignments and ultimately to accomplish their mission.Encouragement is the fuel that powers our efforts to engage, educate, and equip.
Encouragement is the fuel that powers our efforts to engage, educate, and equip. Nothing does more to lubricate the rough spots than a good dose of encouragement. Good leaders care. Strong leaders lift others up. Not everyone is good at encouragement—I understand that. And now that I’ve acknowledged it, you may never use it as an excuse again. If you have been called to lead—and every one of us has that calling in some aspect of our lives—then you have been called to encourage, period.
Once the people you lead are ready, it’s time to turn them loose. But not before they’re ready. As a mentor leader, you have a responsibility to engage, educate, equip, and encourage them first—and at every appropriate point thereafter as well. You can’t just walk in and empower them. The River Rouge High School basketball coach Lofton Greene made sure his teams were so well prepared that he didn’t have to constantly direct them while they were playing. He was there to give guidance and help in times of crisis, but he prepared them so well that when the game started, he trusted his players would be able to execute on their own—preparation followed by appropriate freedom.
Great leaders energize and inspire those they lead. Even as they face their own daily struggles and stresses, leaders look for ways to energize and motivate the people around them.
As a leader, you have to function with the goals of your organization in mind. But the ultimate goal of every good leader is to build other leaders. Many people struggle with this essential concept. Elevating is difficult. It seems paradoxical to elevate someone who might end up taking your place. But raising up leaders is the truly selfless goal of every strong leader, the culmination of focusing on others. To elevate your followers means helping them reach their God-given potential, even if it means preparing them to replace you or leave your organization for better opportunities elsewhere.
Those are the methods for maximizing the full potential of any individual, team, organization, or institution for ultimate success and significance.
Sound off: How do you help others reach their full potential?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Do you know what it means to reach your full potential? How do you think you reach it?”