I vividly remember the first time I was given this great leadership gift. I was 24 years old, a high-performing individual contributor interviewing for a Claims Manager position.
In the interview, I remember very clearly how I was rambling on about all the great “experience” I had to make me a great candidate for the role. The Claims Director cut me off. He said, “Ann, you don’t get experience – without experiences”. Yikes! He was absolutely right; I really didn’t have a lot of actual experience to draw from at that age or tenure in my career.
But what he said next, made all the difference in my career. He said, “You have done some great work here and I BELIEVE in your potential. I will give you this opportunity”.
Wow! Let me tell you, I never worked harder to prove to him that he made the right decision. I faced so many challenges in that role and definitely gained experiences! Experiences raging from being a new people-leader, managing through hurricane catastrophes, making very tough settlement decisions, and learning how to create and manage a high-performing team. After three years and many learning opportunities (a.k.a. mistakes), my team won the coveted “Best Claims District” award in our state!
I went on from there to many promotions, cross-functional moves and eventually became an Executive for a Fortune 100 company. And all of that because of the gift that was given to me.
The gift of believing…
As leaders, you know potential when you see it. When you see it – you have an obligation to act on it, to nurture it. Letting someone know that you believe in them – more than they believe in themselves, gives them the courage and motivation to achieve more than they ever thought possible. That is the greatest leadership gift.
Here are a few simple ways to do this:
Identify and Create Plans: Discuss high potential associates with your leadership team. Create plans to provide them with next-level opportunities. Pay special attention to your diverse associates.
Offer Supplemental Support: Either identify mentors/advocates for these associates or become one yourself to continue to inspire and encourage their growth. Consider investing in a leadership coach for them.
Verbalize Your Belief: Remember, they don’t always see what you see. Remind them of their potential and plant seeds that will motivate them to fulfill your hopes for them. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy in action.
When you really believe in someone’s potential, there will be times when you need to take risks on promotional decisions. Take the risk and couple it with the “power of believing” in their potential. You never know the impact you will make, the careers you will jumpstart, and the lives you will change.
As someone who was highly impacted by someone else’s belief, I think of this Claims Director often. He has since passed away, but I hope he is proud of his leadership legacy and the ripple effects his gift has given to many….
Ann Ritterspach, the Growth Coach at WeInspireWe, is passionate about inspiring growth in leaders. With a great appreciation of the leaders before her and the opportunities to learn, Ann offers coaching to be a catalyst for growth for her clients, deeply connecting with them, and energizing them to pursue their career goals and dreams. If you're ready to elevate your leadership, schedule your free strategy session with Ann today.