What Brussels Sprouts and Leadership Have in Common

Written by on May 20, 2014

No matter how old I am, at times my parents still think I’m 8, maybe even 18.  Recently, I heard my Mother say to my father, “She won’t eat brussels sprouts, she hates them.” I’ve also heard her say other things that perhaps were true when I was a kid but are no longer valid.

For the record, I love brussels sprouts.  I love to sauté them in a little olive oil with garlic, walnuts, and carmelized onions.  I also love to brush olive oil on them and bake them at 400 degrees until they start to turn black on the edges. If we dine together, I will actually try to convince you to try brussels sprouts because I think they have gotten a bad rap all these years.

Which brings me to my point.  How many people on your team have gotten a bad rap because you judged them too quickly?  Or too harshly?  Or maybe you made a hasty decision about them in the beginning of their career instead of factoring in their growth over time?

Just like it’s hard at times for my parents to recognize growth in me, I’m sure I have done the same to others I have worked with or known as well.  It’s lazy to fail to see the changes in the people you serve.  It’s even worse to fail to “coach them up” in areas that you know they need it in.

So, who has gotten a bad rap from you?  Who do you need to circle back to and perhaps rethink their contributions or value to your team?  Can’t think of anyone?  Who are you most frustrated with or disappointed in?  Start there.  That person, or those people, know you are frustrated and I’m guessing are attempting to develop in the areas you need them to.  If you don’t believe they are at least attempting to improve, is it because they don’t think it will change your mind about them anyway?  Is there any chance your attitude towards them could lead them to believe you have already made up your mind about who they are?

I have been in that position before….needing to improve my skill set to perform at a higher level in my job. To do that, I’ve read hundreds of books, attended tons of seminars, talked to many successful people, taken certification classes, gone back to school, etc….all to grow and improve, only to have someone I report to see me as who I was in the beginning.

I’ve also had the amazing pleasure to work with people that have incredible confidence in me, maybe even when my performance did not warrant it because they could see my growth and did not “decide” too quickly on my potential.  Those people are the ones that I list when I’m asked about leaders and people that have made a difference in my life.

How are you “showing up” for your team?  Are you noticing their progress or growth?    Are you having growth conversations laying out specific strategies about what they can do to improve?  Have you spent  time with them painting the picture of what it looks like in the future once they are more competent in their job?  Are you “futuring” them, noting what their growth looks like in a month, 6 months, a year,  or even 10 years?  Have you told them about the books you have read or the seminars you have attended that made a difference for you?  Are you giving them the tools and the time to make changes?  Lastly, are you circling back to notice if they do?

Or have you “decided” too quickly about someone and need to view them again factoring in their growth over time?

I love when someone surprises me.  I love watching, not what people do, but who people become in the process of improving. It brings me great joy knowing someone is attempting to learn new skills in order to perform at a higher level.  The least we can all do as leaders is notice that growth in those on our teams and not continue to see our people as a final product.

So, who deserves another look from you today?