Four actions that can make you a wellspring of confidence

You will never read a single line from some of today’s best writers.
Instead, you will hear them in a TV program or movie. A line that has resonated with me is from season six of Mad Men. When Pete, distraught about his work circumstance, asked for advice, he received this thought-provoking statement: “I realized I had regrets because I didn’t understand the wellspring of my confidence." Spurred by that counsel, Pete recognized the importance of his ex-wife and family, reunited with them, and was able to take a risk on a huge career move. That’s fiction, yet in reality, there is tremendous significance to being a wellspring of others’ confidence in order to help them grow. You can shore up your employees’ footing to go face risks and make big leaps in their capabilities.

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To advance their development, make sure employees are comfortable with you

In the midst of our intense discussion, Dom, a VP from a financial management firm, told me “I don’t need great rapport, I just want Karl to show respect by doing what I ask.” Dom wanted to prepare this smart professional for a more senior role and was very frustrated by repeated failed attempts to help Karl increase his business development abilities. He tried pointing out to Karl where his approach was lacking, giving guidance on better ways to create partnerships and support annual planning with clients. But over time, there was no real improvement. Dom attributed the lack of success to Karl having a real attitude problem. I asked Dom whether Karl felt comfortable with him, to which he responded “What difference does that make?”

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Four ways “good enough” motivates employees for greater growth

Last month I worked with a manager who was eager to develop her staff, but was overwhelmed by her senior management’s charge to accelerate top performance with highly ambitious goals. In her company, performance standards directed employees’ efforts to be ‘excellent’, ‘exceptional’, and ‘outstanding’. Sound familiar? These targets were intended to be aspirational and inspirational. Yet, for her employees who were continually striving to grow new skills and increase competencies, these targets failed to even be motivational.

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Decide there is “enough development for all” and act on it

Ever visit a team where the whole department is pushing the bar higher every week; where the entire team is engaged in high action “learning while achieving” mode? Exceptional development managers adopt an “enough for all” mind-set and act on it. They stop thinking about development as a sidebar or special assignments for a few, and instead prioritize development every day for everyone.

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Shift around work assignments to expand development

People want to broaden their skill sets and have variety and challenge in their workday. "Exceptional development managers” (EDMs) have cracked the code for adding lots of development by looking at the total workload of the department and finding creative ways to mix and match people with various tasks. In doing this, managers also help foster a culture of learning and development in their departments while getting the work done.

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