The Unexpected Path to Great Leadership

A lot of thought has gone into what makes a great leader, but it isn’t always traits like ambition and creativity that come into consideration. In fact, the way leaders view the goals and aspirations of their employees can be as telling as their personal characteristics.

Managers who honor the aspirations of their staff—even if those aspirations may be unrealistic or impossible—have what it takes to become a great leader. Here is why you should care about the dreams and ideas of your staff, and how this can impact your potential as a leader.

Managers as Role Models

As a manager, you hold a lot of influence over your staff, both in what they do and how they think.  If an employee expresses a career goal or an idea they have, how you react has the potential to affect their optimism and their long-term plans.  So instead of shooting down an idea, take the time to get to know your employee and understand the motivations that are driving this idea.

The better you know your staff, the more able you are to provide insight and advice when it comes to their aspirations.  They’ll trust your opinion and show more respect for your leadership if you take the time to discuss their plans.  As a result, you’ll be more able to inspire action and innovation and will be a more effective leader over all.

Finding Value in Aspirations

When your staff members have ambitious and long-term goals, these can benefit your company as well as the employee.  In pursuit of their ambitions, they likely want to develop or improve their skills and branch out into new areas of expertise.  If you offer training or professional development incentives, you’ll have a more talented, productive team and a more competitive organization as a whole.

Even if you don’t have the budget for training or development courses, you can honor your employees’ aspirations by offering them the opportunity to take on new roles within the organization.  Do you have a customer service rep who has an interest in IT? Give them the chance to shadow your IT staff or try their hand at small tasks.  Similarly, if some of your employees have the goal of becoming managers, you can slowly increase their responsibilities and allow them to learn managerial skills on the job.

Honoring the career goals of your employees can allow you to grow your skills as a leader, and it can also greatly benefit your company in the long run. You’ll develop a talented, motivated staff that values your role as a leader and looks forward to their future with your company.