Growing with the times: 3 lessons to unlock your team's potential

Published on
February 2, 2023
Elisha Dunn
Content Manager
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How much potential can your business unlock and nurture?

If the goal is to grow as a business, leaders must look at ways that they can encourage this growth both individually and collectively.

Many leaders equate growth with high performance. Ironically, a performance-obsessed culture leads to overwhelm, inefficiency, and fear. 

What leaders should strive for is a culture of growth — something that is easier said than done. But, when done right, can lead to staggering success.

With that in mind, here are the 3 key lessons we have learned in our own growth journeys, and have applied to our own teams and shared with all our clients.

These lessons answer the crucial questions that lead to a true culture of growth, including:

  • How can you build psychological safety?
  • How do you nurture a culture of continuous learning?
  • How do you know what will work and what won’t?

Let’s begin!

Lesson #1: Safety nurtures growth

How can you build psychological safety?

When teams spend less time being defensive, they have more time being productive. 

According to the CEO of global leadership and culture transformation firm LeaderFactor, Dr. Timothy Clark, psychological safety is not a shield from accountability, coddling, niceness, consensus decision-making, unearned autonomy, political correctness, or constant verbal reassurance.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs presents “safety” as a basic human need. For people to reach their full potential, they must feel safe in their surroundings: safe to express themselves, their ideas, and even objections.

Psychological safety’s aim is to help teams feel included, learn, contribute, and challenge the status quo without fear of being humiliated, ignored, or punished.

When safety is a priority in the workplace, teams are more engaged and creative. They feel involved, are more likely to act like true brand evangelists, and are less prone to leave. 

In short, happy and supported employees become high-performers. High-performing teams lead to business growth and long-term success.

So, ask yourself: Are you providing regular behavioural change-focused coaching sessions? Do you encourage consistent cultural evolution to adapt to changing needs and times? How do you ensure that behavioural changes are taught and applied correctly? Do you consistently model inclusive behaviours yourself?

As leaders, do you practice active listening and curiosity? Promote mutual respect? Acknowledge your own mistakes and be open to differing opinions?

Do you embrace your own vulnerability? Do you pay attention to how every employee operates and give all of them opportunities to speak their minds and seek feedback? What are you doing to empower underrepresented employees?

Answering these questions openly and honestly can help you build a strategy that helps psychological safety thrive in the workplace and allow you to work toward a true culture of growth.

Lesson #2: Growth is learning in action

How do you nurture a culture of continuous learning?

A study done by Deloitte found that organisations with successful continuous learning strategies are 46% more likely to be first-to-market, 37% likely to experience higher productivity, and 92% more likely to successfully innovate.

Continuous learning paves the way to speed, flexibility, and agility in the face of continuous change and challenge.

However, this is only possible if businesses create environments that empower independent research, support open-mindedness, and embrace shared learning that is centred on both the organisation’s mission and goals.

So, how do you make that happen?

First, figure out what mindsets your individual team members have. Do they have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

A person with a growth mindset thrives in the face of uncertainty because they know that they can improve through hard work, good learning and working strategies, and feedback. 

On the other hand, team members with fixed mindsets are driven by fear and can become defensive or emotional when given constructive feedback. 

You can help the latter become more open to alternatives and new ideas by cultivating psychological safety, using positive language, keeping open communication channels, and boosting their independence.

As a leader, do you demonstrate healthy ways to respond to new ideas, setbacks, and change? Do you commend them for their efforts in overcoming challenges and finding solutions? Do you provide them with a platform to vent and discuss their fears and anxieties? Do you give them opportunities to come up with their own ideas and solutions?

Second, encourage micro-just-in-time-learning — user-friendly learning done in small doses, provided the moment it is needed, and easily accessible.

Finally, encourage efficient peer-to-peer coaching by setting specific times for teams and leaders to share tips, insights, or support with one another. 

Remember to 1) work with your team members in setting challenging but realistic goals, 2) provide adequate time and resources that will help teams push these goals forward, and 3) set checks and balances to keep teams accountable.

Lesson #3: Experiments are key to challenging the status quo

How do you know what will work and what won’t?

No one ever gets it right the first time. Creating a true culture of growth requires numerous experimentations, evaluations, tweaks, and do-overs until you finally get your strategy right.

With change and uncertainty come unspoken fears, resentments, and other issues that will cost the business eventually when left unaddressed. As leaders, it is your job to dig deep, become more transparent, and spark the change you want to inspire across your organisation.

You need to uncover which parts of your culture need to be retained and which ones to leave behind. 

To do that, we suggest that you invite your employees to anonymously rate every leader’s level of skill, authenticity, intention, integrity, results, honesty, and standards.

You might not like the answers, but finding out will be the first step in taking personal responsibility for your role in how things unfold.

Next, share the most brutal feedback you get among fellow leaders and openly discuss why it strikes you the most. What place do you think it comes from? What will behaving differently look like? And what experiments can you do to test new and better behaviours?

Finally, hold regular meetings to share progress, setbacks, and feedback with each other. Once you have given yourselves enough time, share your learnings with the rest of the organisation and what you are going to do differently from now on.

As discussed briefly in Lesson #1, role-modelling the behaviours you want your teams to embody is key to creating much-needed culture change.

Driving growth requires a bottom-down approach and a perfect balance of challenge and nurture.

When leaders step up and embody the change they want to inspire while pushing and supporting their teams to do the same, it creates a trickle-down effect that will create opportunities for consistent improvement across the organisation in both the short- and long-term.

Creating safety, promoting continuous learning, and challenging the status quo have been some of the most challenging but extremely fruitful steps that we have taken for our own team, as well as with our work with clients, in fostering a growth culture.

If you want us to do the same for you, partner with us today.