Although certain types of employee development require a financial investment (e.g., seminars, professional memberships, subscriptions), the best return is generated from an investment of your time and energy.
When employees know you have a vested interest in their success, tough discussions become easier, issues are addressed rather than avoided and solutions are presented by rather than prodded from employees.
Andrew Carnegie was an excellent leader and inspiring coach. He came to America from his native Scotland when he was a small boy, did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually ended up as the largest steel manufacturer in the United States.
At one time, he was the wealthiest man in America. To put his wealth into perspective, he sold the Carnegie Steel Company to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million. Today’s equivalent value is nearly $400 billion. He was also a great philanthropist, donating the current equivalent of $79 billion to various charities, universities and libraries.
At one point, Carnegie had 43 millionaires working for him. In the late 1800s, a millionaire was a very rare person. A reporter once asked Carnegie how he had managed to hire 43 millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men had not been millionaires when they started working for him but rather had become millionaires as a result.
The reporter’s next question was, “How did you develop these men to become so valuable to you that you have paid them this much money?” Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for the gold.
Inspiring coaches see it as their purpose to look for the gold in their employees. Once they find it, they coach their employees to refine that gold. They help their employees build better lives for themselves and others while producing winning results. In the crunch of daily demands, it is easy to forget a fundamental law of leadership: If your employees are successful, you are successful.
Inspiring coaches are crystal clear on purpose to invest in future leaders. This might look like:
- Letting team members shadow you at a meeting even if others might not think they are quite ready for it.
- Sharing lessons learned and wisdom from your mentors to help team members avoid mistakes you made and to enable them to succeed faster than you did.
- Reinforcing team members for good use of their natural gifts and creating opportunities for them to continue to use and hone those gifts.
- Having tough discussions to help reveal blind spots so team members maintain good credibility with others.
- Connecting team members with internal or external people with different perspectives and expertise to help broaden their understanding of your business and the industry.
- Discerningly delegating new tasks to gradually stretch team members’ skills and experiences. For example, when you return from a vacation or time away from the office, keep the expanded responsibilities you delegated in your absence as the new norm for the team member.
When we do good, we feel good. One of the most joyful moments for an inspiring coach is to pass the baton to someone you have invested in, and then see your purpose reflected in the new leader.
We were meant to give away our lives. Focus on living your legacy instead of worrying about leaving your legacy. If you do, your leadership and your coaching will have true purpose.
Watch for our new book tilted The Power of Positive Coaching: The Mindset and Habits that Inspire Winning Results and Relationships.