Cyndy Lauper sang in 1986 about letting your True Colors shine through. “Don’t be afraid to let them show.” Today we are encouraged to let our freak flags fly. We build more and more of our identity not just in our work, families, and local communities, but in our presence online as well. For many of us, we have found a way to express ourselves and connect with more people outside of the work/family/community that used to be the extent of our interactions.
But this post isn’t about showing your true colors. It’s about making room for others to do that. It’s about your role as a leader to help that to happen.
We often talk about helping our employees grow. We “create conditions” for them to thrive, we provide training, we provide feedback. But leaders need to do more. They need to understand their team members so well as to know in which situations each is at his or her best, and then they need to be conscious of every opportunity that will allow each of them to more fully bloom. It’s great to have a go-to person in your organization that you can give any problem to and they will get it done. But even that person had to be a go-to person for the first time. You may be confident that she will give you the same green result she always does, but maybe you need a yellow or brown result this time around. Let someone else bring their strengths, their solution to the problem and let them sign it with their colors.
Daffodils are neat to look at in the spring when they emerge. The sea of yellow is amazing. But they’d be boring if they were there all the time and we didn’t see any other colors.
You can’t be a great coach, or help them become better talent, if you don’t give them the opportunity to show you their true colors.