A friend of mine once lamented how her son never picked up the reading habit whilst he was in school. Herself being a voracious reader with an admirable collection of classics and novels, it pained her dearly that this was something she had failed to inculcate in her young son. She firmly believed that good habits like reading need to be picked up young so that the love for books is deeply ingrained in adult life as well.
Over the years we drifted and lost touch. Until last week when I bumped into her social media profile. After the usual pleasantries and catch up on good old days, I happened to inquire about her son. To my surprise, she gushed at how he was today an erudite English lecturer with a formidable command over the language and a deep love for reading. More than that, it was his eclectic choice of reading that never failed to surprise her. She admitted that she had given up hope completely and does not recollect when her son picked up reading. ‘He totally surprised me and has surpassed all my expectations’, said she with pride in her voice. Did she do anything special, I asked. ‘Not really,’ she replied, ‘But I never stopped sharing with him my favorite books or quotes or read aloud when I came across a fascinating subject. I guess he was all the time subconsciously listening.’ Wow. I am pretty much certain that had we met in person, her eyes would have gleamed with joy and delight.
This incident made me reflect on how easily we give up on our colleagues and teams until the day they surprise us. Has our faith in the capabilities and potentials of our teams diminished so much that we give up hope and stop paying attention to their growth? What if we were to continue to believe in them and stay true to our path as leaders and provide them with knowledge? Would they then shine?
Take a pause to reflect on the information that has stayed with you either from your current job or even a former job where the stint was a short one. The time you spent at the workplace is irrelevant. What you picked up and absorbed, stays. And this learning often never manifests in the same place. Only when you move on to another job in your career ladder, that it all comes back. This holds true even for jobs that may have left an unpleasant taste in your mouth. You would have still learnt something and one day the memory of it all will gush from the subconscious to aid you in your quest new solutions.
No knowledge is ever wasted. The human brain has infinite capacity to learn new things. When you learn new things, the neurons in your brain multiply and grow. Challenging your brain actually keeps it younger and vibrant! Therefore, do not fret over the fact that your team is not picking up new things. They are and the brain is signaling all this to them. When the time comes, they will be able to harness their subconscious mind and bring those lessons to the forefront.
Leaders need to trust their team whilst continuing to invest in them through learning and development. The year long pandemic has made many colleagues pick up new skills and/or sharpen existing ones. Knowledge is meant to be shared and that is how it grows. Share with your team the big picture and the inside view of the organisation. You would well be amazed at how they are able to assimilate the information and regurgitate that through creative thinking and innovative solutions.
Ask of yourself whether it is about wanting to have control over your team and not trusting them enough to pick up the threads of knowledge. Let go of your need to control and you will see your team blossom.
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