Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Helping Others Develop Their Potential

by Kevin Eikenberry

Most of us find ourselves in a position to help others achieve more of their potential than we realize. Sure, as leaders, supervisors, and parents we can see ourselves in that position; but the fact is that all of us are uniquely qualified to help at least one other person in our lives reach their potential. I believe it is part of our purpose in life to serve others in this way – to encourage and support people we care about in becoming their best selves.

Many books (some of which sit on my bookcases) have been written about coaching and helping people develop their skills. This article won’t be a definitive list, but it will share my perspective on the essential ingredients in helping others reach their potential.

Help Them See

The first step in developing the potential in others is for the “others” to recognize that they have potential and to know for themselves what it is! We’ve already talked about his but you can’t forget it – it is a critical step. Our goal should be to help them get where they want to go – even if their vision is slightly different from ours.

Potential is about passion. If people don’t have passion for the future they see, they are much less likely to get there (and likely it isn’t the right future!)

Be Them Focused

Many years ago I had a manager who saw great things in my future. He was very supportive of helping me reach his vision. While I will always be grateful to him for seeing potential in me, I continue to shake my head at his approach. He never wanted to know what I saw for myself and my future, instead, he assumed I would want to become what he saw for me. Even when I tried to explain to him that our visions didn’t match, he focused on providing me opportunities and support that were right for his vision, not mine.

Remember that you are helping people reach their potential, helping them discover their agenda and goals. This is not a platform for you to exert your influence based on your belief in them or your vision for them.

Yes, if you are a supervisor or manager you may have organizational goals you hope this person can achieve. Be upfront about those goals, and look for the matches with the person’s passions and unique abilities. Perhaps there is a perfect fit, or maybe the best thing you can do for everyone is help the person move into a new or different role inside or outside of the organization.

To truly serve others in this way we must keep this process completely about them, and not our best judgment, our agenda or our vision for them.

Ask Questions

As a developer of potential our role is to draw the answers from others. Too often we want to share our wisdom and advice. We will be more effective when we spend less time talking and more time asking and listening. Ask people questions about their passions, their ideas regarding their greatest areas of potential, and about the other areas in this article.

Ask questions without bias and questions that encourage the other person to think. Then be patient and keep your mouth shut after you ask. Your only job then is to listen.

Help Them Set Goals

All of us know the value of goal setting, but many of us don’t do it very well or very consistently on our own. We can guide and encourage people to set them. We can help them define and clarify these goals through the questions we ask. Help people describe their current situation then set goals that will stretch them from their current reality towards their potential.

Use your questioning skills throughout this process and encourage people to write their goals down.

Help Them Identify Options and Opportunities

As a part of the goal setting process, people should begin to identify some options to help them reach the goal. Here is where you can begin to provide more direct advice. Perhaps you have experience that you can share to help them identify approaches they can use. Perhaps if you are in the role of a supervisor, you can offer specific training or learning experiences to help them.

At least as important though, is that you are now in a unique position to help them in the future because you know their goals and their vision. As time goes by you will be become aware of situations, courses, lectures, books, people and all manner of other things that will help that person advance towards their goals. Make sure you share those ideas and opportunities with them.

Provide Support

If we want to help people reach their potential, we know they need support. They need encouragement, advice and even feedback.

You expected me to mention feedback, and it is very important. Sometimes though, people have more feedback than they want or need. What they are often lacking is encouragement. Be a person who is supportive, interested and encouraging and you will provide great value to others.

Be a Model

Want to help others reach their potential? The most important thing you can do is be on that same path for yourself. Model the behaviors you are encouraging in them. Have your own development goals. Be a willing and eager learner. Be open and flexible to new opportunities yourself.

You will have much greater influence and much more success in developing others if you are serious about developing yourself first.

Taken individually each of the suggestions above can be a powerful aid to you in helping others reach their potential. Taken together they will astound both you and those you are helping. The best way to apply these ideas is to get started. Identify at least one of these suggestions that you will implement today.

Getting started is often the toughest step. Seeing the success that comes with action will encourage you to continue. Doing it (rather than just shaking your head and agreeing with these ideas) will be both gratifying and life changing - to those you are helping and to you too!

Follow these steps and you are on your way to unleashing the massive potential in others.

I wish you great success.

© 2004, All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry and The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Kevin is Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://kevineikenberry.com/), a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.aspor call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Respect - Build the Team

Wildland fire leaders who know the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles are well aware of the importance of the "build the team" principle. Mosley, Megginson, and Pietri provide a consise explanation of the characteristics of an effective team.

After reading the excerpt below from Supervisory Management: The Art of Empowering and Developing People, download and complete the "Crew Cohesion Assessment Tool" developed by Mission-Centered Solutions and available in the Leadership Toolbox.

"Characteristics of an Effective Team"
by Donald C. Mosley, Leon C. Megginson, and Paul H. Pietri

"Experience has demonstrated that successful teams are empowered to establish some or all of a team’s goals, to make decisions about how to achieve these goals, to undertake the tasks required to meet them and to be mutually accountable for their results. There are several characteristics of an effective team. These include:

Clear Purpose ~ The vision, mission, goal or task of the team has been defined and is now accepted by everyone. This is an action plan.

Informality ~ The climate tends to be informal, comfortable and relaxed. There are no obvious tensions or signs of boredom.

Participation ~ There is much discussion and everyone is encouraged to participate.

Listening ~ The members use effective listening techniques such as questioning, paraphrasing and summarizing to get out ideas.

Civilized Disagreement ~ If there is disagreement, the team must be comfortable with this and show no signs of avoiding, smoothing over or suppressing conflict.

Consensus Decisions ~ For important decisions, the goal is substantial but not necessarily unanimous agreement through open discussion of everyone’s ideas, avoidance of formal voting or easy compromises.

Open Communication ~ Team members feel free to express their feelings on the tasks as well as on the group’s operation. There are few hidden agendas. Communication takes place outside of meetings.

Clear Roles and Work Assignments ~ There are clear expectations about the roles played by each team member. When action is taken, clear assignments are made, accepted and carried out. Work is fairly distributed among team members.

Shared Leadership ~ While the team has a formal leader, leadership functions shift from time to time depending on the circumstances, the needs of the group and the skills of the members. The formal leader models the appropriate behavior and helps establish positive norms.

External Relations ~ The team spends time developing key outside relationships and mobilizing resources, then building credibility with important players in other parts of the organization.

Style Diversity ~ The team has a broad spectrum of team-player types, including members who emphasize attention to task, goal setting, focus on process and questions about how the team is functioning.

Self-Assessment ~ Periodically, the team stops to examine how well it is functioning and what may be interfering with its effectiveness."
Supervisory Management: The Art of Empowering and Developing People, Mosley, Donald C., Megginson, Leon C., and Pietri, Paul H., South-Western College Publishing, 2001, pp. 289-291.

Beginning Stages--Forming a Team, Overmyer, Ronald L., Leadership Link, Winter 2002, p. 6

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guidance Group's "Article Library" Available to Wildland Firefighters

We (the Guidance Group) wanted to make wildland fire leaders aware of the Article Library at the Guidance Group website (http://www.guidancegroup.org/library.php). This is a free and open reference resource, for our clients and friends. The Library contains nearly 40 articles ranging across topics from servant leadership to leading for high reliability; from just culture to leading in a time of crisis. The Article Library includes expanded articles originally appearing in the "Thoughts on Leadership" column in Wildfire magazine as well as articles that we've presented at conferences or published elsewhere, that we think would be of interest to a wider audience. Longer articles include work on the method for evaluating L-380 and an article on leader's intent co-authored by Dr. Jennifer Ziegler and Mike DeGrosky that appeared in a special issue of the journal Leadership.

We post additional articles continuously, including additional entries from Mike DeGrosky's column in Wildfire, and encourage people to check back often. We welcome your responsible use of our publications, and only ask that people respect our intellectual property by citing the authors properly and giving credit where credit is due. Access to the Article Library is obligation free, the Guidance Group does not collect information about visitors to our website, and we will not SPAM you.

Developing Leadership to Make Things Happen

Different types of people = Different types of leaders! by Fran Kick

The best definition of leadership I can share is by way of an example. At a leadership conference before it began, one person saw that the room was kind of a mess. There were papers on the floor, a Coke® can in the corner, and other miscellaneous remnants indicating that an entire day of classes had occurred in this lecture hall. Before we started the session, one person got up out of his chair, picked up a piece of paper and the Coke® can, threw them out and sat back down. Not less than maybe 30-60 seconds later, two other people got up, went around and picked up trash near their chairs, threw it out and sat back down. That first person was leading by the most effective form of leadership possible, leading by example.

No one went up to that first person and said, "Hello, we’d like to appoint you the official room picker-upper and give you two assistant room picker-uppers." They did not receive any special consideration, grandiose title, extra bonus points, cash incentive or reward. They took Nike's® advice and just did it. No one even went up to the other two people who helped out and said, "Look at that! Did you see what that person did? Now if you were even half that responsible, aware, or caring, you’d help out too!" They didn't get any that-a-boy's, pats on the back, gold stars, happy face stickers or candy bar rewards. They saw someone take the lead and they followed.

Leaders do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
whether they want to or not,
without being asked

...which in the words of Thomas Huxley is what it takes to be successful in this world. It's about a different level of awareness more than anything else. Leaders see opportunities to make something happen and they act on it.

Leaders pay attention to more than appearances. They notice the small details as well as the big picture; things that others miss. Leaders take the initiative in making things happen because they see opportunities before others do. You've probably heard the saying, There are three types of people in the world, those who...

Make things happen,
watch things happen,
or wonder what's happening!

Everyone has varying degrees of how well they pay attention to the world around them. If you’re the type of person who pays attention at a very high level, you'll tend to see more opportunities and therefore make more things happen. If you're the type of person who just pays attention to what they "have to" to "just get by," then chances are you may notice a few opportunities, but for the most part you'll tend to notice other people making things happen and then you'll join in. If, however, you’re the type of person who doesn't pay attention at all, you're not going to even notice the opportunities. You'll occasionally notice other people making things happen, but most of the time you'll wonder what's happening.

It's your choice based on how well you pay attention. Are you going to make something happen and take the lead? Are you going to just watch things happen and follow? Or are you gong to wonder what's happening? The first person at that leadership workshop was paying attention, saw an opportunity to make something happen and took the lead. The two other people who were watching what happened saw the first person's example and followed. Everyone else in the room probably didn't even notice what happened. Leaders pay attention, make things happen and KICK IT IN!

FRAN KICK has been inspiring students KICK IT IN® and TAKE THE LEAD since 1986. With a B.A. in Education, a M.A. in Educational Psychology, and three children of his own, Fran knows What Makes Kids KICK!

© 2006 Fran Kick. Used with permission. http://www.kickitin.com/

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Who Says You Need a Title to be a Leader?

As a group of us contemplated the revision of the self-development section of the leadership Toolbox, we noticed that we had excluded the follower/aspiring leader in the online matrix. Revisions, expected to be complete early this summer ,will provide self-development direction for that category of leader.

Each one of us is a leader, whether a leader of one, new leader, leader of people, leader of leaders, or leader of organizations. Leaders of one don't necessarily have a title, yet they are our most important asset. A few years ago, I came across what has become one of my favorite leadership reads titled You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader by Mark Sanborn. Here's what the inside jacket of his book says:

"Through the stories of a a number of unsung heroes, Sanborn reveals the keys each one of us can use to improve our organizations and enhance our careers.

Genuine leadership--leadership with a 'little l,' as he puts it--is not conferred by a title or limited to the executive suite. Rather, it is shown through our everyday actions and the way we influence the lives of those around us. Among the qualities that genuine leaders share:
  • Acting with purpose rather than getting bogged down by mindless activity.
  • Caring about and listening to others.
  • Looking for ways to encourage the contributions and development of others rather than focusing solely on personal achievements.
  • Creating a legacy of accomplishment and contribution in everything they do."

If you are like many wildland firefighters, you may not consider yourself a leader. However, you are a leader of one and owe it to yourself to become the best leader that you can be. You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader is a part of our Professional Reading Program. I challenge you to pick up and read a copy for yourself. If you are a leader of people, consider giving a copy to your followers. The gift you give could be the legacy that you leave.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Leading and Learning Preview

Readers of the blog are invited to preview the online version of the Spring 2010 Leading and Learning newsletter which can be found on the WFLDP website at http://www.fireleadership.gov/.

The hard-copy publication in PDF (shown in the image) will be available soon. If you aren't on the mailing list and would like to subscribe, send an e-mail to leadership_feedback@nifc.blm.gov with "Subscribe to Leading and Learning" in the subject line.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010 L-580 Gettysburg Staff Ride

This L-580 program for Incident Management Teams (IMT) offers an opportunity for continuing leadership development through participation in a Gettysburg Staff Ride. The purpose of this program is to study the Battle of Gettysburg to foster a more strategic approach to incident management and decision making.

The 2010 Gettysburg Staff Ride was presented the week of May 3. There were approximately 100 IMT Command and General staff personnel selected for the 2010 event.

The 2011 Gettysburg Staff Ride recruitment notice should be circulated in November 2010.