Leaders: When you’re thinking about how to develop your people, what might seem to you to be an unexceptional opportunity could be incredibly unique and fulfilling to them.
This week I find myself back in the area where I grew up, the Quad Cities (QCA) of Illinois and Iowa.
The Mississippi River cuts through the QCA, where it’s about a mile wide, and flows from east to west instead of north to south.
That river–flat, wide, and frankly quite boring unless it was flooding the nearby communities–was a constant presence in my childhood.
When I checked into my hotel along the River on Monday, I noticed a card with the hotel’s codes for various room types. One was “King”; another was “King View.”
I silently snorted at that. Who would pay extra for a “view” of that wide, flat, boring river and the industrial buildings surrounding it?
The next morning when I opened the shades in my room with an unintended partial view, I sighed in resignation. Yep, that’s the QCA and Mississippi. Wide, flat, boring, and surrounded by industry.
I took a boring picture to capture the match between what I was seeing and how unexceptional it all feels to me. I snorted again at the idea of a “view.”
Then I checked myself.
What if I’d never seen the Mississippi before?
What if I had been entranced by stories about pioneers crossing this mighty river?
What if I was from the coast and intrigued by this iconic waterway in flyover country?
What if that river was completely new to me, and not wide, flat, and boring, but stunning in its width and power, magnificent in its own right?
Although that view might not be a view for me, because I’ve been there and done that, it might be for someone else.
Developing our people is like that. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to give them stretch assignments and new opportunities. Many leaders struggle with this because it can feel difficult to come up with something that’s “enough.” So instead they just put it in the too-hard pile and don’t do anything to develop their team.
But what might not seem like a stretch to you–a little thing, a new responsibility, something that you’ve been doing in your sleep for some time–is probably a stretch for someone else.
And to them, it could be challenging, incredible, and exactly the stretch they need.
Developing your people isn’t about you and what you consider a “view”–it’s about what’s a “view” to them.
Here’s your task: sit down and make a list of your team, and for each write down one responsibility you have that is easy for you but would be new to them. Something you can delegate to them.
Then sit down with each person to explain what you’d like to do. And actually say the words “This is a stretch and development opportunity for you. And I’m here to support you when you need help.”
Actually NAME IT so they know why you’re delegating this responsibility to them.
And then sit back and let them take in the view. How did this work out for you? Let me know!