This morning I met with a senior executive of a well-know commercial real estate company. We have met on several occasions and are close to launching a coached development program for brokers who this executive has identified as having unrealized potential. She recalled a personal experience earlier in her career in which her own executive manager expressed his belief that there was a definite gap between what she was producing and what he believed she was capable of producing. And it became apparent that my client had a choice in terms of response. She could be hurt and resentful that after what she believed was all of her hard work, her ‘boss’ spoke only of this gap. Or, and as she chose to do, she could feel complimented by the interest and encouragement to take her game and her success to a higher level … exactly what she personally wanted to do.
As a coach this is a situation that is rather common and arises often. As a leader, being open and honest with a report in terms of the potential you see in them and their ‘gap’ can be motivating. It conveys to the person your belief in them and plants you firmly in their rooting section. As the employee (regardless of position), to the extent they are willing to view the feedback as the encouragement and support it represents, they have every reason to see it for its’ positive value. Most often that translates to enhanced motivation to discover what is actually creating that ‘gap’ and what they can do about it. This situation makes for a terrific coaching opportunity and the growth that is derived.
The client I refer to above remembers this singular and rather simple exchange as a career shaping experience. She knows that she could have chosen the other path and lingered in mediocrity, but by choosing the alternative, she feels it just may have made all the difference in the success she has enjoyed in the organization. It seems like recognizing that the choice is ours is a good place to start.