Some say leaders cannot grow people, that rather, people must grow themselves. While this is technically true, that we cannot listen to and apply wisdom for them, we can certainly cultivate an environment in which any reasonable person will grow. If we leave people to their own devices to grow because we ascribe to the line of thought that “I cannot change people,” we abdicate our responsibility as leaders to be agents, catalysts, of change.
Therefore, we can, and we must grow our people.
What causes growth?
For people to change, mature, and improve, they have to adopt new ways of thinking and doing things. How does a person who struggles with anger become less angry? They must go through experiences that reveal to them the hurt they cause others and hopefully, they will find enough empathy to learn from their behaviors. Or perhaps they are exposed to principles regarding anger from a book or another person, that when applied, will help them navigate their emotional prison.
Either way, people are inspired to apply new ways of thinking and acting. While you and I cannot do this application for them, what we do around them and with them could be the single agent of change they may ever have. Let me offer an analogy for your consideration.
The Growing Plant
Does a farmer grow the plant? Technically, no. It’s the DNA in the plant’s cells created by God that causes the growing. However, without the farmer tilling, seeding, pruning, watering, and managing the insects, there is rarely a real chance for the seed to grow. The potential in that seed may never develop if the farmer does not do his work.
Just like a farmer follows specific steps to give the seed a maximum chance for growth, so does a leader aiming to grow others around him or her.
What I can do to unleash growth in others?
Allow me to recommend eight actions you can engage to grow someone around you. These principles will offer their heart and mind maximum potential for growth. Just like a seed without a farmer, without the application of such growth principles, it is unlikely that person will grow.
- Discover – Discover the knowledge they need for growth.
- Understand – Understand their personality and communication style.
- Model – Walk the walk. People adopt what people see.
- Repeat – Reframe your instructions and encouragement in creative new ways.
- Enrich the environment – Create a culture that promotes growth.
- Read with them – Learn with them, don’t just preach at them.
- Develop a relationship – Develop a deep, caring connection with them. People listen to those they feel safe with.
- Bring people into their lives – Introduce them to notable, influential people to inspire them.
I love the maxim, “your personal growth is my personal mission.” May we adopt this principle in our lives and ignore the voices that say, “Let them be. If they want grow, they will,” or “He will grow when he is ready.” I believe everyone will want to grow when they are placed in a position that nurtures their heart. Everyone will be ready to grow when their specific needs are met.