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Spring and leadership development

Note: This is one blog post in our Season of Leadership series. Read about winter and summer, and keep an eye out for additional posts in 2024. 

Spring is in the air! The fresh new green of emerging leaves, the flower’s pop of color that catches your eye, and the bright blue sky peeking from behind a spring rain cloud bring new energy and a sense of possibility. In this time of renewal and anticipation, you can reinvigorate your leadership practices to promote the growth and emergence of people who work with you and for you.

Celebrate and Appreciate

Spring brings so many moments of unexpected joy and natural appreciation. The visual delights of flowers, freshness, and growth invite us to look up with gratitude. Let this attitude spill over into your work life.

Taking time in a meeting to celebrate what is working well, to appreciate specifically what people are doing, and to affirm the intention behind your work is energizing and uplifting. It might be as simple as reminding people to include celebrations in an update process that is already in place. You might open a meeting with a round of appreciations for each other.

These simple practices make a big difference. Many people carry into work a background fear of criticism. To move projects forward and pursue work objectives, we often need feedback about what’s not working well. People need appreciation and acknowledgement of what’s working well to balance the negative input. In fact, we need substantially more of the positive, because the negative messages take up an outsize space in our memory.

Use the celebratory energy of spring to revitalize this vital leadership practice.

Support Emerging Growth in People

Spring is the time of new life emerging — fragile and striving. How can you support the new leadership emerging around you with a sense of wonder and appreciation like you would when seeing a developing tender green sprout or witnessing the first clumsy steps of a newborn lamb? You wouldn’t intervene to do the growing or learning in place of the sprout or newborn. How might you cultivate patience and curiosity for what will emerge when someone takes on something new at work? It’s easy to trust the process of the hatching baby chick. See how to bring that attitude of confidence to the unfolding development of the people on your team.

We strive to support employees and colleagues stepping into new territory, often seeking to embrace the notion of failure as learning or failure as a part of innovation. Perhaps this would be easier if we let go of the idea of failure and simply observe what works well and what needs adjusting as people try new behaviors and lean into new opportunities.

Guiding emerging leaders

It is your job as a leader supporting others to manage your own discomfort as you watch the stumbles and missteps that come with learning. The hard work of a chick hatching is vital to its development and the strengthening of its muscles and cardiovascular system. Similarly, the learning that comes from exploring and discovering in a new assignment is vital to developing new skills and confidence.

At Insight Experience, we design simulations with real business challenges and dynamics—but without real money and people—so that emerging leaders can experience some of the messy learning in a risk-free environment. See what you can do to let your employees stumble and recover even if it comes with risk. The rewards you will see in their enhanced performance and contributions will likely be worth it.

Where could you bring in a sense of discovery and curiosity as you observe unfolding developments, instead of putting energy into pursuing change? Could you notice and allow transformation within yourself and others, rather than pushing for a desired outcome? Often it takes time to integrate a new learning or practice.

Encourage Genuine Diversity

Part of the joy of spring is the diversity of the emerging beauty with the varied bursts of color from different flowers. With flowers, we are delighted by the differences in color, shapes, and sizes that create unique combinations. Yet within our teams, we often wish for people to conform to certain norms or expectations to facilitate collaboration. Though a team of similar people might find a smooth rhythm of cooperation, they also miss out on varied perspectives and robust generative dialogue, both of which reveal new opportunities.

In a spring bouquet or flower bed, we appreciate differences. How can you bring a similar attitude to the different styles, backgrounds, ways of thinking, abilities, and cultural experiences within groups at work? We never expect a crocus to be a daffodil. We appreciate each flower for what it is as it is. How might you explore this with people? Instead of wishing that someone who needs time to process before making a decision would offer recommendations quickly, how might you accept and even appreciate the way they consider things? How might you actively seek out different perspectives, experiences, or ways of thinking to intentionally cultivate ideas that attend to more people and needs?

See how the energy of spring can bring a lightness to your leadership. As you find yourself naturally falling into an attitude of appreciation and wonder for the life emerging around you, bring that gratitude to your work and colleagues.

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