There was this person I met in a leadership development programme. A great thing about facilitating learning is that you can observe how participants think and behave in the environment you set up.
And here was this middle manager from one of the big banking institutions. During sessions and breaks other participants gravitated to that individual. If you have been to full-day trainings you know there are numerous reasons why people get attention.
I learnt that he was a person who created developmental relationships with others in a very short time. Participants used him as a source for learning.
So we had long conversations how he operates as a manager. I asked what he considers as key ingredients of leading.
Guess what he answered?
One thing he surely did not say was ‘I create developmental relationship with my people.’ That is our abstract language.
He just shared what he was doing in his department: Asking questions, openly sharing his notion of leading, listing what people aspired for today and in the future, providing conditions to learn. What about the very good people in his department? Give them even more attention. He basically developed them out of his department.
Not to him. When asking why, he became a bit tense. Signalling to me that I am actually not getting it…
To him dealing with high performing people is vital. Employees and peers outside his department are carefully watching. ‘The way great people leave our department, the emotions they show at that point, and where they are going is why others want to join our department and fill the gaps. What they see is hopefully a process of learning and opportunities. I am never short of good candidates.’
To be honest
This happened ten years ago! But it vividly stayed with me. I do often revisit the situation in my mind.
Today responsibility is very much pushed as a facet of leadership. Mostly related to people outside the organisation, in society, with a rather soft voice towards people inside. What more responsibility can you feel than for the people that endorse you as a manager?
Do you know why people join your team? How do you define your own developmental role? WELL. STOP READING, go to your people and ask them:
‘Can you develop, learn and build your leadership capability in the environment that we have created here?’ However, it is not a one-way street. So ask them what they add to their development to make it a success.
OK, YOU ARE BACK… Tell me how many people have said they can really develop in your environment….
Happy engaging – stay tuned.