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Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

Who has empowered your potential and why?

By Andy Dawson

We get better, braver and more fulfilled when those around us both believe in us and get out of the way when necessary to let us do our stuff. Curium’s Andy Dawson talks about how leadership today has to empower potential.

Hands up, I’m a Twitter fan, and earlier today I noted a post Piali Das Gupta had made linking to a HR magazine article by Rob Gray entitled ‘Leadership in Uncertain’ times. The article caught my eye because, the previous evening, I had been reading a number of responses to a tweet I’d posted asking the following question: “Who empowered your potential and why?”

Empowering potential is about helping people to be the best possible version of themselves. This could be at work, in sport or in academia, but everyone needs recognition and help from those around them to encourage, applaud and support them as they progress along whatever journey they are on.

Respondents named relatives, school teachers and colleagues. There were also some common themes: “We all need cheerleaders.” “Empowering belief around potential to succeed… The sky’s the limit.” “Take opportunities when they come… they may not come again.” “The only thing you can control is you.” “Encouraging me to lead.” “Allowed to slip, yet get caught on the way down.”

You get the gist.

The link from these exchanges to the article mentioned was a comment from Mark Rogers, who put it perfectly: “I really enjoy the reverse mentoring thing. You reckon you’re imparting wisdom only to discover you’re learning it.”

That reminded me of Ken Blanchard’s: “None of us is as smart as all of us!” Mark’s reverse mentoring comment got me thinking about how we should be managing in times of uncertainty and disruption.

We all know that the world, especially the business world, is moving at a pace not seen before, and the level of uncertainty politically and economically is severe. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

In his article, Gray asked how we should adopt leadership styles, given today’s uncertainty. The article looked at how there has been a move away from the heroic leadership models of the past, which struggles without a clear destination.

Instead, there is a need for a more collaborative and inclusive approach. Yell’s HR Director Nikki Jacobi described how Yell now measures innovative behaviours in its leaders and, critically, emphasises the need for collaboration and the nurturing of talent to devolve. You can’t simply follow anymore.

No Brainer: empowering potential!

My mantra has always been; people first and, to blow our trumpet at Curium, people are at the centre of every lens we look through.

People are an organisation’s greatest assets, yet human capital is often managed as effectively or carefully (shame on us all) as any other source of capital.

When I posed the ‘who empowered your potential’ question to people on Twitter last night, all responses were personal and revolved around care, support and encouragement. We get better, braver and more fulfilled when those around us both believe in us and get out of the way when necessary to let us do our stuff.

The leadership style of today is about empowerment, collaboration and developing talent rather than a “do as I say or do” approach. Danny Harmer (CPO at Metro Bank) describes how the company encourages people at all levels to develop leadership traits. He comments that, “whatever the climate, people need leaders they can trust, who can provide guidance, support and recognition.”

Not everyone or every business gets this, but if you empower the potential of your people in a focussed and disciplined manner, then you have the upper hand.

As for me, my potential was empowered (still a long way to go) by my history teacher (Mr Seeley) who brought the real world alive and Jane Dale, a former colleague who gave me the room to play, learn and improve.

So, “Who has empowered your potential and why?” Let me know on Twitter at @Andy_Curium or find me on LinkedIn.

Curium in the News