It’s hard to imagine a leader who got where they are without a particular brand of discipline. If you’re a leader, you’ve gotten where you are not only by succeeding in your role but also by highlighting your ability to make strong decisions. You made it to your position by giving your work some grit.
When you grow comfortable in a leadership role, you tend to go and find solutions to problems yourself. You’re more than capable of doing the work, but you’ve proven that already. You’ve grown, but your team has to have the right support from you for your company to truly thrive under your leadership. If you want your team to be high-performing, you must create an environment where your employees feel empowered to find those solutions themselves.
So much of our society is built around success. Individuals and institutions alike are hyper-focused on the idea of winning. For businesses, whether in marketing or operation, fixating on perfection inhibits your performance. It’s essential to build a team that moves beyond order takers — employees who simply follow a pre-defined process without much thought. Getting past that place with your team is a challenge when our culture, by nature, encourages us to work like machines.
However, you have the power to be a culture-shaper in the spaces you occupy as a leader. Moving toward a culture of growth requires you to work with your people and help them understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. At the same time, you have to be willing to take the hit for your team if they miss the mark somewhere. When you make a mistake, you have the opportunity to shape it into a teaching moment and train your team. In taking accountability yourself, you create the space to engage your employees and help them take ownership of their responsibilities.
A Solution-Minded Thought Process
Maintaining this space with your team means creating a culture of trust. You have to move away from the idea that someone is to blame in favor of diving into a more solution-oriented strategy. When something goes awry, asking what went wrong rather than merely uncovering who’s at fault will continue building your team’s confidence in making decisions. Helping your employees dissect a mistake, determine what happened and how to fix it turns the problem into a learning experience, whereas placing blame accomplishes little beyond simply shaming an employee.
Let’s say an employee keeps missing deadlines. You could sit down with them and ask why they keep falling behind. Or, you could offer to work with them to uncover whatever roadblocks they’re encountering so they can find a way to navigate them successfully and move forward. When you present things in the latter form and include the employee in the process, it changes the environment from accusatory to empowering. You won’t be feeding them solutions; you’re helping them come up with their own.
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Empowering Your People
Once you’ve begun creating a culture of trust within your team, you must turn to empowering your employees. From an environment where they have the support and skills to navigate their problems, you can shift to improving their successes. We always have the opportunity to improve, whether we’re learning from mistakes or getting better at the things we’re already doing well.
With the right culture established, you’ll have a competitive advantage because you’ve empowered your people to be more proactive and willing to experiment. When this is the standard mindset, you create a new thinking pattern, and your employees are constantly looking for new ways to improve. They know they’ll be supported if they fail, giving them the courage to try new things.
Advocating for a Culture of Growth
When you’ve created a culture where your team has the confidence to speak up, try new things and think outside the box, your company will flourish. Creating a culture of growth can only start when those within it are not afraid to fail. More than helping improve the mood within your organization, employees who are growing and learning are more likely to be happier, stay at their jobs and increase your bottom line.
Building a culture of growth can take time, and it has to start from the top. If your executives are comfortable owning up to their mistakes and looking for new ways to grow, your other employees will as well. By creating a safe environment in which people are encouraged to learn from their mistakes rather than hide them, you empower your employees to experiment and grow along with the company.