Grow, Crack, or Quit Never Compromise Personal Growth
If you could choose only one trait the people you lead must possess, what would it be? Mine is simple: a commitment to growth. If people are willing to grow, any shortcoming can be conquered.
In this article I want to share with you how I go about making growth a reality on my teams.
Every blog has a different story of conception. This one began a few weeks ago as I was talking with a person on my team. I told her, “If you choose to come alongside me, I expect personal growth.” This is not a new concept to those who already work with me. When they hear it, they usually give me a look of “Yes Wes, we know.”
Then I lightheartedly but seriously followed with, “You have three options when you work with me: grow, crack, or quit.” The room got silent before we both chuckled. Even though my comment was somewhat in jest, these three words really describe what I expect from those I lead. I have a high expectation for intentional growth from my team. And they expect the same from me.
Grow, Crack, or Quit—What does it mean?
I push people to grow, not aggressively or rudely. Never to demoralize or put someone down. Not even to force others to be like me, except in one area: Be intentional when it comes to personal growth. Most people on my teams choose to grow and become better every day. These people walk the journey with me and fight the battles of leadership alongside me. A few end up reeling and struggling emotionally because of the pressure to grow, and they begin to crack emotionally. And rarely, a few quit, or are asked to leave.
So before you think I am a growth tyrant, let me explain a few things about my approach. The “pushing” I do varies in intensity depending upon the depth of the relationship and how coachable the other person is. For those who refuse to be encouraged to grow, I gently persist. I am respectful and kind, but I do not let them by with a free pass. I expect personal growth from everyone. And I am intentional when I add people to my team to be clear what my expectations are in this area.
Thankfully, most people I have worked with have had a natural desire to grow. In fact, many of them have grown at such a rapid pace they have inspired me and taught me on my growth journey. And to them, I owe much gratitude. So, how do you encourage others to grow?
10 Ideas to Remember When Encouraging Others to Grow
Before you demand high expectations of your people, remember the following:
- Grow and model growth. Apply personal growth disciplines in your own life and be an example for others to follow. Otherwise, you will not know how to coach others to grow. People do what people see.
- State your expectations early and often. Unfortunately, growth is not a common expectation in the workplace. Even when growth is talked about, it is not regularly encouraged or enforced. Talk about it often with the expectation that people take charge of their own growth.
- People have different starting points. Everyone is at different points on their personal life journey. Allow people to start where they are. Encourage them to grow in the areas of greatest interest to them, and they will develop their own love for growth. Then, you can guide them into more specific areas of growth.
- People have different capacities for growth. People grow at different rates. Growth is personal. Allow for that, but do not relent on your expectation that each person is committed to growing themselves.
- People should be intentional. Growth does not happen automatically. Encourage people to grow on purpose by making a plan, blocking time on their calendars, and reflecting on what they have learned.
- People should have an actual written plan. Demonstrate to others how to develop a growth plan. Allow them to develop their own plan, and it is more likely they will take ownership of it than if you issue a growth plan to them.
- People should be coachable. Praise your people when you see them open up to growth opportunities. Encourage them to grow in teachable moments on the job and in their personal lives. And most importantly, demonstrate to them how to be coachable by being a good student yourself.
- People should ask for feedback. If it is not commonly practiced in your organization, create opportunities and a culture that values feedback. Teach your people how to give and receive feedback.
- People grow in different ways. I love to read, and I think everyone should read. I am not reluctant to say that. But a few people in my circle like to listen to books. Others like to watch TED talks or read blogs. Allow people the freedom to choose mediums that appeal to them most. I used to hate to read, until I read one book that changed my life. So don’t insist on your own way to get new information; but also don’t be so passive that you neglect to suggest or share what you do personally to grow.
- Help them; don’t condemn them. Facilitate opportunities for growth for your people. When you can, give them resources, set up mentors, send them to conferences, and sponsor events.
So much can be said about growth. The bottom line is that growth must never be sacrificed or compromised. You may not choose to be as hard about it as I am to “grow, crack, or quit,” but I encourage you to make growth a priority in your organization. Make it your expectation and a value your people adopt.
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