Developing Unrealized Potential

Take a coaching approach in developing your people.

Summary
Transcript

Dean Harbry—executive advisor, coach and chief operating officer for Brightworth—explains why leaders should focus their efforts on evolving the unrealized potential of their followers.

“The one-line job description of a manager or leader is to develop the unrealized potential in the people that report to you,” says Dean. “What's interesting about that idea is that you're starting with this belief that they can do so much more than they even know or realized.”

Watch the video for Dean’s tips on putting this into practice.

Where we work, we say the one-line job description of a manager or leader is to develop the unrealized potential in the people that report to you. What's interesting about that idea is that you're starting with this belief that they can do so much more than they even know or realized. And for anybody, for example, who's decided to run a marathon, right, it seems like that's impossible to do. But when they do it and realize, "Oh my gosh, you know, I had no idea that I had this capacity in me." You can imagine the satisfaction that comes from a process like that.

So to develop the unrealized potential in the people that report to you means you have to start with the belief that they can do so much more. OK? And when you take more of a coaching approach at developing your people, to lead with questioning and not with giving answers, and demonstrating care and concern, emotional intelligence and belief in that person, you set the environment where they feel comfortable to take risks and create.

And so if a person is learning a skill, for example, and maybe they're not good at it, well, you may decide, "Well, look, I'm going to put you at a freedom level where you're going to recommend to me what you're going to do before you do it." But the whole idea behind that is we're going to kind of test your thinking here. But if you come up with an idea that's like, "Oh my gosh, that wouldn't work," we still want to find a way to help that person think through what the answer is.

So in my career, I've been an executive coach for 15 years, and just to be able to see that when you use that questioning protocol and you help people describe their own thinking, it's like magic occurs. OK? They come up with some of the best ideas.

So here's one little tool that I may use at a time like that or that we would recommend you would use. And that is if somebody comes to me with a question like, "Hey, boss, how do we do this?" I don't take the bait on that question. I turn around and ask a question in return. I'll say something like this. I'll say, "Look, if you were the boss and I was a person responsible for the same area that you are and I came and asked you that question, what answer would you give me?" Eighty to 90 percent of the time the answer that they come up with is amazing. OK?

But if I'm an amateur manager and I want to be the genius at work, the impulse is going to be to problem solve for them so that they know how to do it. But that's really backward for a professional leader or a professional manager.

Dean Harbry

Dean Harbry has a long history of work assignments in the financial services arena. After a long stint overseas, he began his corporate career at the Bank of Ireland, where he worked with the stateside Bank CFO in mergers and acquisit...

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