Seven Steps to Unlocking Your Team’s Potential
“Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking your potential,” Winston Churchill once said.
We have a saying at Niles, too: “Lean, don’t ram.” It’s something my first boss in this business taught me. I was 23 and full of energy. Stubborn and determined, everything had to be done right now! Well, my boss took me aside and said, “Frank, you have great potential, but you have to learn that when you want to knock over a wall, it’s better to lean than ram. If you run at the wall with all your might, you’ll likely knock yourself out, but if you lean against the wall with constant pressure, eventually the wall will fall.”
It’s advice I never forgot. Over the years, I’ve learned “leaning” is its own process. This is especially true when you’re in a position of leadership and the “leaning” is done within the context of an organization or team. Apply these seven steps in a process of continuous effort, and you and your team can knock down any wall.
Set goals and make them meaningful motivators. Of the 1,000 clichés about goal-setting, one of my favorites says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish before you set out, and you’re more likely to achieve those goals. It’s your job to set direction, so determine where you want to end up and translate those desires into concrete goals. Make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable and time-based, and then use them to challenge, focus and motivate your staff.
Communicate and build trust. Goals won’t become meaningful motivators if you’re the only one who knows what they are! Moreover, a lack of consistent communication usually leads people to assume “negative” and quickly become distrustful, which leads to further feelings of not being in the know, and a vicious cycle ensues. So communicate often and work to build trust. A number of great techniques exist to do so. Our senior management meets twice a month and reviews goals as a team. We also have a monthly “Pizza Day” lunch where we bring everyone together to discuss our progress as a company.