Many years ago, while working as the news director at a television station, I hired a young reporter who was very inexperienced, yet an individual I knew had the capability to accomplish great things. I recognized potential in her that she had not recognized in herself.
On this reporter’s first day on the job, I did something I had never done with a rookie reporter before; I assigned her responsibility to produce the lead story on the news. Though she didn’t want to admit it, I could tell she was scared to death. At the end of the day, she turned in (with the help of others) an outstanding news story that was worthy of its high position in our nightly program. This reporter went on to a very successful career as a news reporter and anchor at several news operations.
People want to be challenged. People need to be challenged if they are going to achieve greatness. Leaders have the responsibility to recognize potential in others and challenge them to develop that potential to the fullest. Here are six ideas on how to effectively challenge your team members:
- Challenge and support. When I assigned the rookie reporter the lead story on her first day, I also assigned our most experienced videographer to work with her on the story. Other veteran reporters offered their counsel and support to the “newbie” throughout the day. If you want people to go to the next level, make sure they have the resources available to help them get there;
- Challenge their goal-setting. Help your team members identify and establish goals that are challenging, yet attainable. Meet with them quarterly to review their progress and revise strategies as needed. Mentor them to help them overcome obstacles preventing success. Affirm their progress. Celebrate their victories;
- Challenge complacency. Refuse to allow team members to accept the status quo. Break them out of their comfort zone by giving them challenging projects or new leadership opportunities;
- Challenge them to grow. Help team members identify development opportunities that are right for them. Perhaps it is a new position in your organization. It could be workshops, leadership programs, conferences or other advanced education opportunities. Build a culture where everyone is encouraged to cultivate their potential;
- Challenge them to meet challenges. The true test of character comes during tough times. It is important that leaders role model how to act in a time of crisis. Encourage your team members to embrace challenges and to view them as opportunities to enhance their skills; and
- Challenge them to learn from failure. It’s okay to make mistakes. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times to create the light bulb. Edison didn’t view that as failure, he viewed it as learning new ways not to create a light bulb. Learn from failure and apply those lessons going forward.
Challenging people in the right way will boost their confidence, improve their performance, and heighten their job satisfaction and engagement. Challenge your team to be a group that thrives on challenges.