Some leaders ask team members to jump through hoops and over hurdles in order to prove their worth. As a team member shows promise and results, they devise yet another test to ensure that this colleague is really worth their time and investment. They have to earn every ounce of trust and responsibility this leader might bestow upon them some day in the distant future.
Know a leader who does this?
Constantly asking team members to prove themselves to earn their place is both exhausting and demotivating. Is this really the best way to produce quality work and performance?
When team members have to prove themselves before they are trusted or viewed as talented, they sour with every new roadblock. Over time, they disengage or come to resent the fact that they have to earn the right to be successful.
They come to view the leader as someone whose standards are high, but misses the mark when it comes to getting people to want to meet and exceed them.
If they could, they would ask a simple question: What is the downside of believing in people before they have proved themselves?
In a word, NONE.
Believing that others will do well before they apply themselves creates confidence and energy. Believing in people is a habit of great leaders.
They know that championing colleagues never robs them of their standards, expectations, or demands. Nor does it lower the bar on judging performance objectively. Instead, it simply presumes that a team member will succeed and motivates them to do everything in their power not to disappoint.
Ask experienced leaders why and how they have enjoyed so much success, and they will often describe a leader who believed in them before they believed in themselves. It was this wind at their back that propelled them forward in ways they didn’t think were possible.
Leaders who create the tailwind of belief in others have a bigger long-term impact than their brethren who relish putting people to the test.
Who would you rather work for? The answer is painfully obvious to everyone but the leader who holds up the hoops.
Thinking of all the behaviors a leader has in their kit, this one has to be in the Top 5 most effective? Thinking back on my life, there have been a handful of people outside my immediate family who believed in me like you describe in this post. I would've (still would) go to the ends of the earth if they ask me to.
Listen to the 15 minute daily discussion we had around this Field Notes entry: