SOWING THE SEEDS OF SUCCESS
“Cultivate” is the second element of Balance Point Group’s tag line, and from a coaching standpoint it’s probably my favorite phase because it’s where the roll up your sleeves work lives.
Any successful gardener will tell you thriving plants and beautiful blooms don’t happen by accident. You’ve got to dig in (so to speak) and do the dirty work; prepping the soil by breaking it up and giving it water, nutrients and sun so that it’s ready to receive and nourish what is planted.
So it goes with cultivating leaders. Perhaps old habits need to be broken, existing skills may need a boost – all so fresh ideas and new patterns can take root and flourish.
As coaches, nothing gives us more joy than helping leaders cultivate other leaders. The process takes a little time, but it bears the sweetest fruits; strong individuals who build and support successful organizations.
Maddie is a great example of a leader who fully invested in the cultivation process. When I met with her a year ago to talk about coaching, her goal was to increase her team’s productivity and effectiveness. She was feeling stuck because none of her efforts had made a significant difference on that front.
I appreciated Maddie’s realization that change needed to start with her. Often, leaders try to change their team members rather than shine the light on themselves first. Maddie understood that going through the cultivation process herself would deliver the results she desired personally and for her team: “Better me + Better you = Better us,” a formula masterfully articulated by Tom Fuller from NextJump.
Six months after I completed her coaching program, Maddie and I met for coffee on a beautiful sunny day and I asked her what she had learned about being a boss and a coach.
Her response focused on the regular 1:1 meetings she has with team members and the fact that in those sessions her employees want her full attention. Her epiphany was that giving them her all required her to let go of her agenda and instead engage in their agenda.
This sounds like a tall order but her two-part solution is as practical as it is effective. First, when she is asked a question she stops instead of indulging her natural reaction to give her opinion.
Second, she uses that deliberate pause to translate her thoughts or opinions into a question that she asks back to her direct report. Doing so forces Maddie to let go of her agenda and it turns her team members into problem solvers who are challenged to come up with solutions in the moment and grow in the process.
In fact, she shared that one of her direct reports, one who used to be easily overwhelmed and unable to take on multiple projects, had grown so much that he was ready to manage his own direct report!
Through coaching and her own intuition, Maddie discovered one of the great truths about being a leader:
Successful leadership is as much about coaching and growing your team members as it is about ensuring they do what the job requires.
And, the process of creating a culture of cultivation starts with you, the leader.
What prep work do you need to engage in for yourself so that you can grow?
How will that growth translate into growth for your team and your organization?