Fourth grade was a particularly rough year for me personally. My father had remarried and things with my (then) stepmom could get rocky at times. We were all learning how to live together as a new family and to say that it wasn’t always smooth would be a massive understatement.
I also had to deal with a recurring bully named Cody and one of the meanest teachers that I have ever had-who was a never ending source of anxiety, as I wondered when I would get yelled at for something…anything…even when I (or any other student) didn’t deserve it.
Then-there was Mrs. Abraham. Thank goodness for Mrs. Abraham!
No matter what I was going through, Mrs. Abraham loved me. She noticed me. She spent time with me. She hugged me when I needed it and she corrected me when I deserved it, too. She told me (repeatedly) that I was special and destined for great things.
In looking back I knew two things about Mrs. Abraham…that I was safe with her and that she cared about me. I felt like the apple of her eye and that was such a good feeling…especially during that season in my life, when I wasn’t so sure that I was anyone’s “apple.”
Is it any wonder that more than 30 years later I still remember her with great fondness?
Find the Apples
I’m sure that you have your own “Mrs. Abraham” story in your life, which means that you can relate to how it speaks into a young boy’s or girl’s heart when someone looks at you and says, “I know you’ll do great things…”
If you want to develop a leadership culture in your organization you need to do the same thing with your people. You need to go to your people and let them know that they are all the “apple of your eye” and that you believe they can do great things…and that you will help them do great things, if they choose to do the work.
“Jerry, I really see a tremendous amount of potential in you!”
“Kayla, in many ways, you are so far ahead of where I was when I hit the six month mark. If you choose to, I think you’d make a great manager…”
“Mike-I know you’re still learning how to diagnose and repair HVAC systems-but I wanted you to know that I think you’re showing good progress…keep going!”
Everyone wants to be noticed. Everyone. Whether you live in the top 2% or are barely making ends meet, you want to be noticed for who you are.
So, notice the people that you lead.
Speak into their hearts, their minds…into their lives.
When you do this, people will become loyal to you. They will work harder for you. They will stretch themselves for you. They will strive to reach their potential for you. And in the moments when you have to correct, coach and discipline, they will be more receptive to your message, because they know your heart.
People have been bombarded all their lives with their shortcomings, their failures, why they’re not good enough, they don’t succeed and why they’re just another face in the crowd. How powerful would it be if you broke that pattern in their lives and became the one person, like Mrs. Abraham was for me, who I knew cared about, noticed and believed in me.
Bear Good Fruit
Over time you’ll be able to identify which of your people are good candidates for moving on to higher level positions within your company-but, that’s for another post…in the meantime, remember that everyone on your team has something to offer~why don’t you be the one to tell them?
Read the Other Posts in this Series!
Developing a Leadership Culture Part One
Picture Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net