Each individual is a species on the verge of extinction. Fail to recognize their true potential and you’ve wasted an entire lifetime of untapped abilities and skills waiting to be unleashed by the right leader. Money will come and go, but each person is a unique identity you will never encounter again.
Your fellow colleagues are individuals that will grow with you, and you with them. It is akin to a two-way investment –if you dedicate time and energy in building a relationship with them, you will get the returns as it matures. Here is a rough progression how to invest in people.
Investment in People
1) Establish the relationship
The style of relationship you choose to build with a colleague will determine the outcomes you receive later on. Leaders who opt for a “Work Buddy” relationship will get their returns primarily in loyalty and companionship. A leader who champions opinions and creativity will get exactly that –opinions and creativity. As their followers grow and learn, their creativity follows suit. The “Get Your Stuff Together” leader will expand into a position of control and dominance in the relationship.
2) Provide opportunities
Opportunities spur growth. For an individual to mature, you will have to give them the chance to do so. In my own opinion, there are two kinds of opportunities you can provide as a leader: Linear opportunities and branching opportunities.
Linear opportunities focus on refining and advancing an individual’s current skill set. This is where you delegate tasks closely related to that individual’s expertise. These opportunities are well-suited for established professionals in a particular area.
Branching opportunities focus on expanding their skill set. This happens when task that are somewhat related, but clearly different, are handed out. This is particularly useful for individuals still seeking to discover their talents, as it allows them to experiment and get a feel for what kind of work best suits them.
3) Earn their respect
While the second step, providing opportunities, focuses on growing people in terms of knowledge, the third step is centered on preserving loyalty and a desire to maintain the relationship. Mutual respect between you and a colleague or employee gives purpose for them to stay within the relationship you have established. This allows you to continue providing opportunities.
There are no silver bullets to earning respect; it’s largely situational and reliant on your personality. However, empathy and the ability to understand and connect with an individual is usually a fundamental base to earning respect, as is your ability to respect another individual in return. Different styles of leadership and personalities will require different pathways to respect.
Humanity has no defined peak; neither do the individuals that compromise it. The individuals you work with will never stop growing and maturing. It is a constant investment.
A well-known fact, but worth the reminder –relationships require upkeep. Persevere in your investments in others and they will only continue to grow. Perhaps that’s why people are the most important investments: the returns are limitless.