Bring out the Best

As a leader one of your responsibilities is to bring out the best in the people that you work with and/or lead.  This sounds great, right?  We all want to see people operating in their strengths and contributing in a way that makes them feel successful.  The challenge with this is the process.  Sometimes bringing out the best in people is messy, sometimes they don’t like it, sometimes they don’t know they need it and oftentimes they don’t realize that they’ll come out stronger/better on the other side.  That is what you as a leader have to gauge.  How much tension can you create that will enable that person to grow and stretch beyond their comfort zone without snapping?  I have numerous journal entries about my struggles with this as a leader.  Sometimes it takes years before an employee will see or acknowledge how you helped them be better because you pushed them, you believed in them and you pulled more out of them than they thought they had to give.  Sometimes they just get mad and give up.  I’ve had both happen to me.  I’m still figuring out this tension and I think it varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. 

I’d love to hear your stories about how you bring out the best in others!

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  • Rachel March 5, 2008  

    Boy, what a flashback! I don’t know that I ever brought out the best in my employees….you know their names. 🙂 I think managing people and challenging them to grow is very difficult because every person is different so your methods have to change and fit each person…kind of that square peg, round hole thinking. What seems to work with every person I’ve ever managed as well as my kids is setting tangible goals – short-term and long-term. This gives the person a chance to feel immediate success as well as grow to bigger things. Everyone likes to feel successful and appreciated so always make sure you celebrate the achieved goal, even if its just a verbal thank-you or pat on the back. People will not rise to the occasion if you do not set the expectation.

  • Dad March 5, 2008  

    It’s a very fine line on how hard or far to push an individual to achive more. I have found in my life as a leader that we do not complement the success of others enough. If we acknowledge their successes they are more eager to work harder when we ask them to. Leading by example is the best motivator for anyone. I believe Jenni, you do that best.

    Love You, Dad

  • fullofboys March 5, 2008  

    I think this can be so difficult but for me, I found that establishing a personal foundation worked best. When I was working I would walk through the doors in the morning and before I even set down at my desk I would stop at the other employees desk for a couple minutes. I didn’t really ‘have time’ for it but I knew that it I would take time to invest in them, they would respect me when I asked them to push themselves or face a challenge. I think they were also sometimes more responsive to me because I knew how to best push them since I had taken time to know their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Janice March 5, 2008  

    I’ve never considered myself a “leader,” although we all are to some extent. However, as a follower, I agree that acknowledgement of successes goes a long way toward motivating one for greater things. On the other side of that coin, allowing failures without condemnation but rather guiding through the failure, brings more success. I recently read this quote and thought of you, Jenni:

    “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”

    You are an inspiration!

  • patrowland March 5, 2008  

    great thoughts jenni… That is what I probably enjoy most about what I do. I love seeing people on my teams succeeding whether staff or volunteers. I’m not sure which is harder; pushing someone who is successful to step into a place where you know they will do even better, or moving someone who thinks they are successful and they aren’t into area that is a better fit. I think before you make the approach you have to have a substancial level of influence with the person. There has to be a history or trust where they feel and know you have their best in mind.