Newer leaders sometimes assume their team has the skill or knowledge to successfully carry out the work they have assigned to them, but this may not necessarily be the case. Someone may be struggling with a particular task and might be hesitant to seek out help. To be an inspiring and approachable leader, here’s what you can do:

  • Be a model learner. Be open when you don’t know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem, and acknowledge your mistakes when you are in the wrong.
  • Learn how others learn. Accept that not everyone learns in the same way. Some like to dive in to their tasks right away while others need deeper knowledge and preparation in order to complete the task at hand.
  • Ask questions to draw out learning needs and reservations. Open-ended questions can help you decipher what a person on your team may be struggling with. Help them build their confidence.
  • Be judicious when comparing your own learning journey. Share moments where you struggled to learn the skill you are now teaching, but not in a way that diminishes their struggle.
  • Demonstrate when helpful, but always check in with your learner first by asking, “Would it be helpful for me to demonstrate this for you?”
  • Reinforce learning through observation, reflection, and coaching. Once you’ve given someone a lesson, they may be more sensitive to your scrutiny as they practice mastering their new skill or task. Set expectations about how and when your next observation of their performance will happen.
  • Manage your expectations. It’s important to remember to not signal disappointment or frustration as this may hinder your learner’s progress as well as confidence.
  • Check in periodically. Having regular check-ins signals to your learner that you care about their progress, and remain available to support, affirm, and coach them as needed.

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