She had a way of seeing the beauty in others, even, and perhaps most especially, when that person couldn’t see it in themselves.
— J. K. Rowling
I read the story of a young boy who worked in a factory, but he had an intense desire to be a singer. When he turned 10 years old, he took his first voice lesson which procured a less than encouraging remark from his teacher, “You can’t sing. You haven’t any voice at all. Your voice sounds like a wind in the shutters.”
His mother, however, believed that he could learn to sing. She was very poor, but she hugged him and said, “My boy, I’m going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.”
Her encouragement and sacrifice for her son proved to be invaluable. He became known as one of the world’s greatest singers. His name is Enrico Caruso.
I like this story because it represents such an important leadership quality that is needed today. On a personal level, we know that we will never rise above the way in which we see ourselves. But contrast this in the way you view others. Do you make it a practice to look for the best or are you only finding fault?
When I was a young boy in grade school, I struggled as a student. I was diagnosed with dyslexia which made learning a challenge on many levels. The diagnosis was helpful in getting to the root causes for my academic struggles and receiving the help I needed.
One person responsible for that help was Mrs. Strong – my fourth-grade teacher. She instilled a confidence in me that was lacking along with an inferiority complex to match. But it was her perseverance in working with me that began a process of helping me to
change my mindset which subsequently helped me academically. The changes didn’t happen overnight, but the seeds were planted that brought me to where I am today.
Seeing the best in your people is an important first step in adding value to them. Your people will never be moved or helped by your silent observations. So what can you do as a leader not just to see the best in others but to help move them from where they are today to a place of greater meaning and purpose in the future? Here are a few suggestions.
You can only see the best in others up close. When you build relationships with your people you will be more prone to see the best and finer qualities in them. It’s also through that relationship that you can identify areas that need improvement. But because you first built a relationship, you now have the credibility to see both and add value.
The relationships that you have with your people will be different from person to person. But when it comes to calling out the best in your people it must be based on trust. Seeing the best in others is just a beginning. Helping people grow to new levels happens when they trust you because trust is the currency of relationships. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of trust. It’s the best way forward.
Build with patience
Seeing the best in others and calling it out is invaluable to your people. It’s a morale booster and confidence builder that’s always appreciated. However, you must think long-term and pack your patience as you help your people grow. Seeing the best qualities in your people doesn’t mean those qualities are polished or perfected — it simply means you recognize them. As a leader, your job is akin to seeing the diamond in the rough. Now that you’ve found it, you can begin to refine it. Be patient with the process.
Build for the right reasons
Growing and developing leaders around you seeing the best in them, should never be done with selfish motives or intentions. If your angle in seeing the best in your people and developing them is for your own benefit down the road, then perhaps you should reassess your motives. Seeing and wanting the best for your people should first and foremost be about making them a better leader. The residual effects that come ought to be secondary to helping that person reach his or her full potential.
Are you seeing the best in others?
©2021 Doug Dickerson
Read more at dougdickerson.net.