How to unleash the brilliance of your team

Respect the individual, acknowledging specific strengths, experience, skills, capabilities and achievements

How to unleash the brilliance of your team

For several years, I’ve had the honour of working with some of the best and brightest at a global technology firm. Every year, I’m blown away at the final graduation day as individuals bravely step up and present their innovative idea for the organisation to the CEO and leadership team.

To witness their individual brilliance shining brightly as they step with confidence well and truly into their spotlight is inspiring and it’s always fabulous to see their work recognised and thinking reinforced by the leadership team.

At times I have no doubt that these ‘students’ didn’t like me much as I pushed and stretched, challenged and questioned, for the simple reason that I saw so much more in each of them. 

But the majority of those at the starting line get to the end of the program, each on their own accord, during a year of change, incredible workload, a significant amount of personal compromise and most of all an inner determination to be their best.

When I think about unleashing the brilliance in teams I think about what’s achieved through this program: helping people move from being scared about sharing an idea, fearful about speaking in public or even nervous about how to put fingers to keyboard to write a well-thought-through white paper, to stepping in to their own brilliant leadership to become leaders that others choose to follow. It truly is a massive shift for them.

John C Maxwell, leadership expert and author, is known to have said to his mentees, ‘The good news is I care about you—the bad news is I will be honest’. And it’s that honesty that’s one of the essentials of magnifying others.

Whether you’re a one-person practice, a small business owner leading a team, or driving the performance of a larger organisation, it’s up to you to make people feel amazing, to bring out the best in them.

As a leader you have the capacity to unleash the brilliance in others every single day. You have to inspire those around you to perform at their best and to achieve the results they want to achieve. You have to connect, influence, empower and equip others.

To unleash the brilliance in your teams, you have to create a safe space that you agitate just enough to unlock ideas and thinking, create possibility and potential and provide the motivation that drives momentum and change.

Your role as a leader is to:

  • make a difference and mobilise change
  • create a path for the future, inspiring others to engage with the work that is needed
  • meet others where they’re at, empowering them to collectively move forward.

To magnify the brilliance in others, leaders need to:

  • create a safe environment for people to try and fail, to question and ask, to explore and be curious without judgement
  • create a space for personal growth where people are challenged and pushed, encouraged and nurtured as they work towards their own frontiers of competence
  • respect the individual, acknowledging individual strengths, experience, skills, capabilities and achievements to date and encourage individuals to leverage their uniqueness for themselves and to help others
  • care about the individual and be truly compassionate about where they’re at, their views, personal opinions and inner fears
  • recognise growth and personal achievements and acknowledge when new learning has been adopted and personal limitations or barriers are pushed through.

Thinking about your company or team, which of the behaviours above are you strong at and which could you focus on to improve?

  • what specific action you can take that will lift others higher?
  • how you could open doors for others to try new things and practise new skills?
  • when could you make invaluable introductions within your organisation to create that career progression opportunity?
  • how can you share more about what you know: your knowledge, insight and advice?

Unleashing the brilliance in others is ultimately the intentional support of another: taking action, collaborating and sharing what you know and who you know to better someone else. 

It is about developing the talent around you to create the leaders of the future – leaders who are driven and intuitive, who can influence and inspire, who are results oriented and curious about possibility, who are courageous enough to innovate and brave enough to use their imagination. 

It is about securing the present talent and ensuring that the pipeline of the future generation of leaders is solid.

Ray Pittman, President & Chief Operating Officer, McWHINNEY summed this opportunity up perfectly when I interviewed him on my Unleashing Brilliance podcast.  He said ‘Everybody has potential. I think it is the job of the leader to help their team to find that and to learn how to perform at a higher level both individually and together’.

Janine Garner is the author of Be Brilliant – how to lead a life of influence (Wiley).

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