Bringing Out The Best In Others

Encouragement-leadershipAs a leader you want to bring out the best in others so that not only they can perform better, but then so can the whole team and/or organization.

I have drawn upon the parallels of leadership within my sport of beach volleyball, to come up with some tips to help you lead your team – whether as business owner, a group leader, a speaker or even a parent.

What makes my sport of Beach Volleyball unique is that we are a team of just 2 people and we rely on each other to win every point.  I am still playing the game here on Maui, mainly for fun…..and yet we still want to play our best and yes, we still want to win.

Something I have discovered in my more senior years, and playing with less experienced players, is my ability to bring out the best from my team-mate.  My friends have commented on this and it got me thinking about what I do that is effective, and what that means for you and empowering leadership.

Here are my top 3.

1. The number one thing is ENCOURAGEMENT.

Even during the mistakes I am looking at what they are doing well and then giving tips about what they can do next time to make that play.  While my partner is getting down on herself for missing a dig, I’m there letting her know she made a great effort and if she adjusted her position she would get the next one up.

Just an example, but you can see how that helps the person stay focused on a successful outcome while knowing there are adjustments to be made.

I wish I was more encouraging back in my competitive years on the FIVB World Tour.  I wonder how much better we would have done.  I would say all the right things to sound encouraging but my spirit and energy was negative and I know I didn’t always play like a team.  Back then I could justify it and say that I had high expectations and demanded better, but that expectation only served to put extra pressure on my partner, and even myself.

TIP: Remember you are on the same side as members of your team, and ideally you are working towards a common vision and goal, assuming you have that one worked out.  How can you encourage everyone so that you keep them focused on the right things to help your organization or business succeed?

2. I like to see my playing partner do well and improve so I TEACH & COACH them while playing.

I can see what changes can make a difference.  It might be a change in how they play the ball, or I might introduce a tactic that they were not familiar with.

My focus is on how WE can win the game so I’m tuned into the minor adjustments that need to be made to our play.  It’s important to be FLEXIBLE.  What works for one person may not work for another.

You can tell the person who soaks up the advice and feedback as they appreciate the opportunity to grow and improve their performance.  They are the ones who ask questions and also are so receptive that you see them put the advice into action.

To coach members of your team you want to be aware of timing and adjust your approach to the individual.  This is not about micro-managing, it’s about helping someone’s performance.

TIP: Observe your team members and see what tips or advice you can give from your experience.  Focus on advice that is about improvement rather than pointing our what someone did wrong and avoid giving feedback immediately – check to see if it is a consistent error rather than a one-off mistake.

3. I monitor STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES.

I want to win and so we need to adjust strategies according to the dynamics of the team.  In my game it affects how we set up our defense as well as our offense.  I know the ability of a player and what they can and can’t do – and play accordingly.  I’m not going to be angry if someone messes up doing a skill they have limited ability with.  That’s not to say I won’t empower and encourage them to improve.

In an organization, boost your team’s success by utilizing strengths and weaknesses.  Give feedback that is appropriate to the skill level of the individual so they can actually use the advice to improve immediately.

TIP:  Know your team and be able to adjust as the make-up of your team changes.  Set your expectations of each team member according to their abilities rather than the role, and then what you can expect is for them to improve through regular encouragement, teaching and coaching.

I use these same 3 principles in my own coaching and speaking business – encouraging, coaching and teaching others on a path of constant improvement to help them to perform at their best.

Businesses today are about a team and collaborative approach.  Empower your team members and your empower your organization and your results for long-term success.  Your team members will want to ‘play’ with you and will celebrate your wins with you.

What do you find helps you bring out the best in those you lead? Please share in the comments.