Values of a Great Team: GROWTH

If you follow my blog, you know that the topic of personal growth is near and dear to my heart. Why am I so passionate about growth? Because the realization that personal growth is not automatic revolutionized my life. When it comes to leadership, intentional growth in both individuals and teams produces the same result: a Growth Revolution.

In this post, I will share the principles of personal growth, specifically as they relate to our teams, in my series on twelve Values of a Great Team.

Plants growing from soil - Plant progress

Whether we are leading a family, a team, or a large company, we must be clear about the principles that shape our culture. I am sharing the twelve values our organization has chosen. Your team or organization may select different values or choose different ways to describe them. Regardless, I encourage you to have defined values that are written well, discussed often, and lived intentionally.

Here are the first six commitments our team makes to each other:

Now I will share the seventh value: growth. This is an immensely important topic and a commitment we have made together in our organization: We pursue growth. Allow me to guide you through the principles growth and how they can be simply understood and applied at the team level.

Growth must start with the leadership.

While any of the values we share must be practiced by the leadership first, modeling personal growth is quite possibly more important than the rest. If a person aspires to have a leadership position or a leadership role, but does not practice personal growth, they will limit themselves and will have no credibility in asking other people to grow and change.

Many leaders relate personal growth to “self-help.” Some say to me sheepishly, “I am not into self-help books.” I was interviewing a high-level executive once who told me, “I have already gone through that phase of reading and growth.” I am not sure why “self-help” has acquired a negative stigma. Isn’t all growth self-help? We should all be into self-help. After all, if you don’t help yourself, no one else is going to help you.

My leader friend, we must make it a top priority to pursue personal growth for ourselves before we ask our peers or anyone who follows us to grow.

Individual growth precedes team growth.

There are two types of growth that we should pursue: individual growth and team growth. But which one comes first? Which is more important? After individuals are set on a course for personal growth, then we can start growing together as a team. We can begin perfecting processes together, communicating better with one another, learning as a group from a public speaker, and brainstorming as a team. There are many things we can learn at the team level when every individual is making personal growth a priority.

For some leaders, the idea of growing their team is to gather everyone in a meeting and give them a lecture. While that can be beneficial, it’s not where growth begins, nor is it how growth becomes a value of our culture. Organizational growth happens when we encourage individuals to pursue growth on their own. Twitter_logo_blue Then we bring everyone together, and invite them to pursue growth as a team.

Growth must start in a one-on-one conversation between the leader and each member of the team. Hold each person accountable, and ask them to hold you accountable. Make it personal. Tailor growth to each individual, delicately but decidedly.

Sometimes when I start working with individuals, they’ll share with me that they don’t like to read. Honestly, years ago I did not like to read either. It was a learned skill for me. So, I don’t hit them over the head; I just listen to their story. I try to respectfully push them to the next level. I share my story with them of how growth has made a difference in my life. I invite them into excellence.

While I try to be gentle, I also aim to be as clear as a laser. I do not say this, even though it is true for me: If you don’t pursue growth, we will not go on this journey together. I will give them time. I will help them in any way that I can. I tell them, “Growth for you may look differently than it does for me. But it has to be intentional, measurable, and clearly produce fruit.” Twitter_logo_blue

How can you tell if someone is growing? Just ask them, “What are you learning these days?” If they cannot answer, then they are not pursuing growth. People who are actively growing, are always working on, reflecting on, and wrestling with something. Twitter_logo_blue

If people work against this value on the the team you lead, ask them to leave your team. And don’t feel bad about it—because ultimately they will stress themselves and everyone else, and eventually they will leave anyway. If they don’t openly oppose growth, but have just not fully embraced it yet, invite them to try new ways of growing themselves. Give them time to do so…but not forever.

Personal growth precedes professional growth.

We need to grow personally before we can grow professionally. Personal growth happens in the areas of our:

  • Character (love, humility, integrity…)
  • Emotions (anger, frustration, grief…)
  • Thinking (how and when we think)
  • Faith
  • Health
  • Disciplines
  • Relationships

The more we develop in these, and many other areas of personal growth, the more success we will see in life, and the more equipped we become to grow professionally. How many highly skilled people do you know who are grossly lacking in the areas of character, or emotions, or health? I know many. They are usually limited in their careers, lives, and leadership.

So how do you start a conversation with a person in a professional setting to talk about personal growth? I ask people, “Outside of your profession, what areas are most important in your life? Parenting? Marriage? Faith?” When they tell me, I then ask if they would like to improve themselves in those areas. The answer is almost always a resounding yes. That’s where we start. If we fail in our personal growth, no professional growth will matter. Twitter_logo_blue

Growth must be intentionally pursued.

The word pursue conjures up the image of Tom and Jerry for me, the infamous cat and mouse cartoon that so many of us grew up watching. We have to run after growth. Life gets so busy that we do not always want to do it. So we must be intentional to chase it down.

When I talk with people about growth, I almost always hear, “I don’t have time. I am so busy.” When we feel as if we don’t have time to do something, it is never really because we don’t have time. It is that we have something more important to us to do. We all have 24 hours in a day. We fill it with activity for which we give priority—activity to which we assign value and importance. So your challenge, as a leader, is to see how you can stir others to value the activity of growth.

Pursue growth in your own life. Pursue it in your leadership. Model it for your people.

Actionable step: Talk about personal growth in each meeting you have with the people you lead. Make sure they have a growth plan. Then have growth activities collectively for your team.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

About me: Once a year I take a trip with one of my family members. This year, I am tentatively planning to travel to Africa, to possibly climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If you have taken such a trip, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

For Further Reading:

Create Your Growth Plan – Part 1: An Overview
Create Your Growth Plan – Part 2: Book Reading
Create Your Growth Plan – Part 3: Additional Reading

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