Who's the best leader you've ever known?
I've had some good bosses. But I'd have to say it's Mr. Dansker, my college Journalism professor.
Mr. Dansker believed in me. He thought I was a good writer. And more importantly, he thought I would go out and get the story at a time when I wasn't at all sure of my ability to do that.
But he was tough! I remember him holding an assignment I'd just completed, saying to the entire class, "And here we have Miss McGookey, who writes..." This was followed by a couple of the worst sentences I have ever composed. Sentences so bad I could hardly believe they had escaped my notice before I handed them in.
Mr. Dansker is the guy who noticed a 19-year-old me, and thought he saw someone special. And I felt that. He thought I could do much more than I thought I could do ... and in order to impress him, I decided to try. In the process, I learned that I had more ability than I had given myself credit for having.
Mr. Dansker took an interest in me, pushed me, criticized me and encouraged me. I wasn't getting that from anyone else in the world at that time in my life. And it made all the difference.
Are you playing that role for your direct reports?