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Finding and Fostering Greatness—However Small it May Seem

Honest confession: I am an unapologetic and total fan of NBC’s The Voice. The popular singing contest debuted in 2011, and I’ve been following the show ever since. Part of my fondness stems from my musical upbringing; my father was a musician—he was head of glee club in school, head of the choir in church, and he even had his own band at one point. So as his daughter, I was always surrounded by music, and I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember.

But beyond that, I love The Voice for another reason that I just recently became aware of. Throughout my entire professional career, I’ve had an innate desire and capacity to notice the smallest improvements in people, and wholeheartedly encourage that incremental progress. Whether it’s working one-on-one with employees to improve their communication skills, leading a bigger team on a major project, or consulting entire organizations on improving employee engagement, I’ve always been inspired to assist people along their personal journeys to bettering themselves. Seeing progress in others touches my heart, and drives me not only as a manager, but as a person.

Occasionally, I see more potential than is actually there, meaning that sometimes I overestimate others’ capabilities. Nonetheless, I love trying to reveal that brilliance to others and grow their light, so that it may shine brighter. I naturally believe in people and their potential to want more and be more. When we believe in our team’s potential and help them actualize it, we show that we care for them as humans, not just for what they can do for us. And when people have someone in their corner and feel supported, we are inspired to exceed our own expectations of ourselves.

So it’s no surprise, then, that I get genuinely emotional watching these budding musicians refine their craft week after week on television, and achieve greatness over the course of a season. Seeing professional coaches mentor these artists is like watching caring leadership in action. Why? Because caring leaders prioritize recognizing and growing the gifts and talents of those they lead. Instead of ignoring the signs of greatness in their people, caring leaders search for it.

If you are a leader, you may be asking yourself how you can do this with your own team. You might consider having meetings with individuals to really get to know them and their professional goals, and understand your role in assisting them towards those objectives. You could also keep an eye out for and pass along professional development opportunities you think they would benefit from. Give them gracious and constructive feedback on a frequent basis so they can continue working on themselves. Use your network to connect them to mentors or sponsors, so they may advance in your organization, and ask other leaders you admire about how they approach employee development.

Speaking from my own perspective, I know that I love playing a part in progress, however insignificant or time consuming it appears to others. I find it uplifting to improve people, cultures, organizations, and structures, and I consider it my job to get others to seek these improvements as well. 

I believe everyone loves bearing witness to an evolution, to an underdog story, to an upward swing in others that defies expectations. Some call it naïveté, some call it hope, but I just call it leadership.

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Heather R. Younger, J.D. YouTube Channel