You are sitting in yet another meeting. The same old gang is bringing up the same old ideas. Then something happens, someone comes up with a brilliant solution to your problem. Everyone takes a clue from the spark and suddenly your meeting is exciting and worthwhile. The results will be so strong; they will erect a statue in the lobby of you being hoisted by your team.
Yeah, that usually doesn’t happen. However, one of the truest measures of being a leader is not underestimating the ability of your team. This can be either in performance, potential, or awareness. Any of these three areas can damage your ability to lead.
1. Performance- this is the obvious one. Underestimating how your team can perform will undo your leadership. You need to give your team realistic and challenging goals. Goals that half of the group may not achieve. Bonuses are not extra salary. Giving everyone easy targets will yield them to be lazy and not put forth the effort to excel.
2. Potential- your goal as a leader is to maximize everyone’s potential; whether that is someone who will end up as the CEO or as a key contributor in a key position for years. By underestimating what everyone can individually achieve, you are doing their careers a disservice. And guess what? Leaders who do not get their teams promoted don’t get promoted either. Understand where each person wants to go and help them achieve it.
3. Awareness- despite working for you, your team is not stupid. People are keenly aware of your perception of them, what is going on in the company, and how other teams are treated. You are sadly mistaken if you think that people will follow you just because you are their boss. They may listen to you and do the job asked, but you are not inspiring them and building your village.
You need to take the time to analyze how you treat your team, how you perceive your team, and how your team performs relative to the rest of the company or industry. By being truthful with them, you will be truthful with yourself- which is the real key to becoming a leader.