Updated: Jun 15
"Leadership is about the release of human possibilities."
— Joseph Jaworski
Until recently, I had not thought about leadership this way. It’s in stark contrast to the traditional view of leadership, which is more about directing people to build their collective strength.
John Gardner calls this the “Generative Element” of Leadership. As a leader, you generate energy and help others generate their own energy.
Releasing possibilities. Think about your last interaction with a coworker. It can be anyone, a peer or a report, or even your boss. Did that conversation release new possibilities in that person? What about the children in your life? Do you help them find possibilities?
How can we ensure that we are helping in creating this generative energy in others?
Listening. “Listening allows people to express what is within them. It gives their feelings substance and direction, and then they can act.” - Joseph Jaworski.
This great quote tells us that listening actually creates energy that the speaker can convert into action. That’s pretty powerful. I never realized that listening can actually spur action.
“Communicating to people that you believe they matter”. When people know they matter, you give them the support they need to go ‘do’.
You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, you simply have to give them the power of knowing that they can figure it out.
Stop quashing possibilities. So many leaders kill the human possibility. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this myself. Why do we do this?
Lack of awareness. How aware are we of the power of our words? I think many people believe that their words don’t matter. But we all have heard stories of a child being discouraged by others. Or maybe we have stories of our own. Be aware that words have power, they can create or kill possibilities.
We need to be right. Most of the work we do nowadays is about knowledge. I have gotten so caught up in the facts and being right, that I neglected to nurture other people’s growth.
Ain’t nobody got time for that. And of course, we’re all so busy. Releasing human possibility and deep listening takes time. Who has time anymore? It’s an investment that pays off. If you can release a possibility in just one person per day, or even one per week, imagine what your team would be like in a year?
How do you release possibilities in others? Let us know!