How You Stifle Growth by Putting People in Boxes

The other day someone said to me, “You see the glass half empty.” The comment kind of startled me, I certainly wasn’t expecting it and it was not helpful to the conversation. Honestly, I didn’t know how to react. It made me wonder why he would say that? Certainly, there is a time for self-reflection and consideration of how others see us.

However, I see this trend of putting people in boxes more and more often. Because it’s easier to put people in boxes with blanket statements that offer little value, we fall short of truly investing in them. As leaders, it’s important to be careful with our words and purposeful in our communication to lift others up and encourage them.

Build Great People

“Great leaders build great people to achieve a great vision.”

I have used this quote a lot in my coaching over the last eleven years because the primary job of a leader is to build great people. If we do not develop great people, we will never achieve a great vision.

How can we create great leadership in people if we put them into a box? The answer is we can’t. We must be look at people for what areas they excel in and what they uniquely have to offer. If we don’t, how can they surpass our own leadership for the sake of a vision worth following?

4 Ways Jesus Helped His Followers Grow into Great People

So, how do we stop this practice and begin to be leaders who set people free from their boxes? The best place to start is to look at Jesus, the master leader. There are four things he gave his followers to see them grow into great people:

  1. Confidence – Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals. Great leaders give people confidence in themselves. All of us are made in the image of God, that immediately gives everyone tremendous value. As leaders, we can look for God’s image in all our employees and we can speak life into them when they fail. We can encourage them consistently. And we can decide to always discipline the action and never the person.
  2. Courage – Courage is the tendency to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met rather than threats to be avoided. Jesus never ran away from the challenges he faced; he met them straight on. Our job is to show our employees this same attitude and applaud them when they meet their challenges straight on.
  3. Commitment – As Jim Collins once said, “With commitment comes a single-minded passion for what we do and an unwavering desire for excellence in the way we think and work.” Jesus knew his mission and taught his disciples to have that same commitment for a mission with excellence.
  4. Control – Control is having certainty that you can shape your destiny rather than passively accepting events as they come along. Jesus took twelve guys and gave them the control to teach, preach, and heal in his name. We should not be afraid to set our people free to take control. When we do, we will be surprised at what they can accomplish. They will be surprised too -and that realization will grow their confidence, give them more courage, and deepen their commitment.

Jesus was a fantastic leader. We just need to follow His example. He took men, many who were in a box, the angry one, the proud one, the fisherman. Many who, if we are being honest, were guys that you and I would have fired—if we had even hired them in the first place. But Jesus saw something different and he took those men and grew them into champions of the faith we still talk about today. Champions that changed the world. We can do the same if we see the impact of God in our people and we refuse to put them into our little boxes. Remember, great leaders build great people to achieve a great vision.

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