The reason most people fail to exploit their full career potential is not because they lack the ability or desire to do so, it’s because their vision of what they could accomplish is constrained by the attitudes and actions of others, especially in the corporate world. Rare is the day when mainstream corporate employees receive positive reinforcement, encouragement and support to reach their potential. Invariably it is just the opposite. The typical culture and environment in the business world is intended to keep people in their place, not to encourage them to find their place.
The boundary of interest many managers have in the employee is that they do the job they were hired to do; it goes no further than that. Of course this does not prevent these same managers from being obsessed with their own personal growth and development. Unfortunately it is the ingrained belief held by many leaders that the best way to rise up is to keep others down. This type of attitude worked in the past – and is still the gospel at most companies – but it is an outmoded approach to leadership that should be discarded.
It’s a new world
The old management rules of the 20th century no longer apply in the new millennium; or at least they shouldn’t. Those seeking to be seen as a great leader need to recognize that in today’s world the most effective way to achieve their personal objective is to concentrate on helping others grow to be great in their own right.
The leader who shows more interest in the development and growth of their followers than they do in their own, will grow to become a great leader. That’s because when followers are encouraged and allowed to grow to their full potential they become beholden to the leader for the opportunity. As a natural consequence, they do all they can to reciprocate by supporting the leader.
In simple terms, when an entire organization grows to be great, the leader becomes even greater.
This approach is best implemented by thinking in terms of creating a “hothouse for humanity.”
In simple terms, a business culture that becomes a hothouse for humanity is a place where all comers can grow to be great. When a leader is focused first and foremost on fostering, building and maintaining a hothouse for humanity, they create a launching pad for individual and collective greatness. This is an environment that teaches, encourages, allows – and most important – motivates people to strive to fulfill their potential.
Some of the ways a leader starts down the path to greatness by creating a hothouse for humanity include:
- Constantly reminisce about the future with followers so they know where the leader wants to go.
- Establish and maintain certain inviolate principles of ethics and way of acting so people have support, stability and consistency as they seek to grow.
- Show respect for followers by constantly communicating, seeking input, encouraging risk and teaching from mistakes.
- Be open, consistent, available and honest.
- Embrace the understanding that the commitment, dedication, effort and growth of the followers are the most critical assets a leader can have on the path to greatness.
When a leader makes the effort to create a culture with transparent, free-flowing communication that encourages all followers to participate in the effort to succeed; if ethics are solid, objectives are clear, priorities are maintained, and support for the growth potential of the follower is constant – then the result will be a hothouse for humanity. Only in a hothouse for humanity can followers grow to their potential and can the leader grow to greatness.