I was excited to read about my friend and colleague Bill Treasurer’s upcoming webinar for NetSpeed Learning’s 2015 Thought Leader Webinar Series, Open Door Leadership: A Radically Simple Way to Lift People, Profits and Performance. Bill’s session will focus on how leaders can “create meaningful opportunities for challenge and growth.”
Of course, you don't have to look far in this environment to find a challenge. There’s a reason VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) has become the acronym du jour for describing today’s business world. But too often I’ve seen high potential programs and similar initiatives designed to help people stretch beyond their comfort zones so they can further their growth and careers actually backfire because the people involved weren’t set up for success.
The point is to get them to stretch, not to snap!
From research on the brain and learning, we know that it takes a lot of energy, motivation and passion for people to be successful in an area that requires them to think outside of their comfort zones. They can do it, but it takes considerable mental effort, and that needs to be recognized, acknowledged and integrated into the process.
That’s why we advise leaders and learning professionals to take a Whole Brain® approach as they put together their plans, particularly when it involves hi-po development, and consider questions like:
- From a thinking standpoint, what will our business require in the future?
- What are the implications in terms of the thinking needs of the employees we’re developing?
- How do the business’s needs and the individual employee’s aspirations intersect?
- What tools will help us meet these needs?
- How do we keep employees motivated through the challenges they’ll face?
- How do we translate all of this into appropriate development paths?
In many ways, it comes down to a question of alignment.
So back to Bill’s session. Bill is the founder of Giant Leap Consulting, and his view of leadership is an embodiment of the Whole Brain® approach. It’s not about focusing on profits or performance or people or possibilities—it’s about being deliberately, situationally attentive to all four.
He brings that same perspective to this conversation when he says that leaders need to focus on aligning the needs of the organization with the career aspirations of those they lead by intentionally pursuing the stretch goals and challenges. By knowing your employees, as a leader you can create balance between comfort and discomfort and provide the tools that allow them to progress in those stretch areas.
When you’re deliberate about how you set the stage and create those opportunities, confidence grows. It doesn’t mean the challenges will get easier, but it does mean the employee will be motivated and even excited to take them on.
Bill’s webinar is on April 29th at 2 ET, and it should give us all plenty of food for thought. In the meantime, what are you doing to help people get intentional about their thinking as they take on new growth challenges? I'd love to hear your ideas. Tweet us @herrmannintl.