How many things can you think of that are better than knowing you have other caring, credible, and wise people who believe in you?
There is a real sense of value and self-worth gained when other people acknowledge who you are and not what you do.
I don’t want to minimize performance in organizations, but in many ways, it is just that: performing. And if I have learned one thing about performing, it is that you are only as good as your last show, and the audience expects more and more from you on stage. Let your performance slip too much and you can find yourself sitting on the outside looking in.
Which is why I would like to zero in on the topic of self-perception. However, not mine and not yours. I would like you to think about a person in your organization who needs to know that you value them and that you see potential in them. Sure, they might have some things to work on, but who among us doesn’t.
Let's think about someone in your organization in whom you see some leadership potential that needs your care and your nurturing. This is a person who if they just got the sense that you believed in them could, on their own, take your organization, department, or team to another level of performance.
Here is my premise: If you are not investing in developing and nurturing the leadership in your organization you will someday wind up with a rudderless ship.
For years we have been sold the message that to fill a position we must look for certain skill-related criteria in workers. While I am sure skills are important to do a job, they say little about a person's ability to lead in your organization. I have several clients right now who are faced with the reality of wanting to promote a talented person to the next level of leadership only to look one level below and realize that there is no one to promote into the vacancy that will be created. The people at that lower level down all have the skill to do their jobs, they just don’t have the ability to be promoted and lead a team or a department. The entire promotion process comes to a halt because no one has either invested in the talent to groom them for the next level, or the person was hired for their skill to work in the role with no thought at all about if they could some day work two or three levels higher in the organization.
Look no one has a crystal ball. We don’t know how people are going to perform. We don’t know how they are going to adapt to more responsibility or interact with others as tension and pressure increase. I don’t think anyone in the organization is asking us to be Las Vegas odds makers on these people.
But just because you can predict the next CEO from your sales organization, or the next Lead Pastor from your youth group doesn’t mean that you can completely abdicate your responsibility.
Think About the Investment
The question for all of us is who are we taking the time to invest in?
The investment you make in others, just like the investment you make in your 401K or IRA is a strategy. It takes a deposit every month and then month after month and year after year. If you don’t invest enough in your retirement then you will end up short when you are ready to retire. According to the Employee Research Institute, the average American at age 65-69 has only $212,812. According to Bankrate’s investment calculator if the average person started at age 20 and invested $5,500/yr at 7% they would have $1.57 million at age 65.
This is a difference of $1.35 million. Now you can say that some of that might be due to income and so forth but I don’t believe it. I think it has to do with not being intentional when it comes to saving and investing for a time we all know is inevitable. What is says to me is that we as Americans don’t have a retirement strategy. We live for the moment.
Link to Leadership
I think many of us approach developing leaders in our organizations the same way we approach investing for retirement. We know it is a good idea. We know we need to do it. We just don’t have the discipline to make it happen.
Before you read any more, I would like for you to STOP: Take out a pen and a pad and write the name of a person who you need to be thinking about and intentionally developing.
After identifying the person you want to invest in you need to ask yourself, what do I do to invest with them? Why not assess what their personal level of self-perception is? Self-Perception in the emotional intelligence world determines how in touch the leader is with their feelings, and how good they feel about themselves. Success in the area of self-perception means you are confident in pursuing your life’s goals.
Here is a little quiz to get you thinking about the level of self-perception your intentional investment candidate possesses.