I love the topic of believing in people, it used to be an alien concept to me until my time in College. What I mean is not that it was never there, but I simply did not see it or realised it was present. I remember in all of our classes, our trainers used to tell us “Guys, we believe in you more than you believe in yourself” and consistently reminded us that we were “Born for greatness”. Well, if we didn’t believe it at the beginning, we would definitely believe it after hearing it everyday for 4 years!
But one thing was to say that they believed in us, another was to see them put it in action and finally learn what believing in people looked like. Obviously, there are unlimited ways in which you can believe in someone and help them be everything that they were created to be, but I hope to touch on some of those aspects in order for you to gain a little bit more of perspective on the matter.
Recognising the potential
How do you believe in something you cannot see? Is this even possible? Would you ever invest into something that in its current state does not look anything like the finished product? In order to see beyond what you have in front of you, you need to develop the skill of recognising potential. This could also be called simply having faith, in people, in projects, in initiatives.
The funny thing about potential is that other people usually see it in you before you see it yourself, and this is exactly the important point. As leaders it is extremely important that we don’t simply see our employees for who they are at the moment, but actually spend a little more time dreaming of what they could become.
The first step in order to recognise someone’s potential is to focus on their strengths, but not necessarily fully developed strengths. Ask yourself, what are they good at? What comes naturally to them? What glimpses of improvement in their weaknesses have I seen? What makes them unique? What do they enjoy? What are they passionate about?
And as you pay attention to your team member’s life in order to answer such questions, you might start realising that the person you have in front of you, could actually become so much more than you see right now! Remember that everyone has potential, sometimes not so obvious, maybe a little bit hidden, but definitely potential that is awaiting to be discovered, polished and shown.
Taking the risk
Believing in people always implies a risk, just like faith, it involves trusting in what you can’t necessarily see right now. You might be trusting someone in whom you see big potential and hope that they will carry the vision with passion and responsibility, but you will never know if this is the case until you try.
I personally believe people are always worth the risk, until you give them a chance, you might never discover the gold they carry on the inside. A friend once told me that in life you will have great and not so great experiences with people. But if you are not willing to pay the price of believing in people, you might never experience the greatness they can bring to the table, the greatness they can bring to your life. At the same time, it is a high price to pay, for when it turns out different from what you expected, the experience might give room to hurt and disappointment, but as a leader you have the choice to decide to continue to believe in people, understanding that a bump on the way doesn’t make the road not worth taking.
Never loose trust in people because of a bad experience, use it as wisdom and as a boundary of knowledge and awareness for future encounters, but never let that boundary become a wall between you and the people you can reach or influence.
Raising others to take the lead
Truly believing in people and raising others involves putting effort in helping them be everything that they can be. Whatever your position as a leader, it is vital that you understand the importance of raising others to take the lead, whether in one area, or many that you are in charge of. Great leaders die with their generation because of their lack of legacy, not because they did not live a great life, but because they forgot the principle of passing on whatever it is that they carried.
I truly admire leaders who are not afraid of raising others, who are not insecure to let others give things a try, and who invest into their team not for them to be exactly the same as they are, but for them to go beyond what they could ever dream or imagine. Have you ever thought what would happen to everything you built and developed if you left this world today? Would there be anyone in your organisation willing and with enough capacity and training to carry it and take it to another level? Now, that’s something worth thinking about.
Believing in people it’s an adventure, it is simple and complicated at the same time, it involves a loving, forgiving and passionate heart, but more than anything it involves leaders thinking beyond themselves and understanding that just as other people might have believed in them in a way or another, they now have the chance, and responsibility to do the same.
So, are you willing to pay the price of believing in people? What experiences have you had that might have shown you this is a price worth paying?