Engaging and Developing Others

This week, we’re are talking about one of the most crucial aspects of successful leadership––developing others. You see, John Maxwell says, “One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.” Everything that you will accomplish as a leader ultimately hinges on the people you have around you. And it’s your responsibility as a leader to engage and empower your people to be their best selves and do their best work. So today, John Maxwell is going to teach us about engaging and developing others.

During the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow discuss developing others from the very start––the hiring process. They also provide some application to help you apply this to your own leadership.

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Engaging and Developing Others Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Hey, Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, Mark Cole here. And, today is going to be a great episode because today we're talking about truly one of my most favorite, yet most crucial, aspects of successful leadership. That's talking about developing leaders. You see, John Maxwell says that one is too small of a number to achieve greatness. Everything that you will accomplish as a leader ultimately hinges on the people you have around you, and it's your responsibility, as a leader, to engage and empower your people to be their best selves and to do their best work. So, today, John Maxwell is going to teach to us about engaging and developing others. Then, Traci Morrow, my co-host, and I will come back and dig deeper into John's lesson and offer some application to help you in your own leadership. Now, if you would like to download the free bonus resource for this episode, please visit maxwellpodcast.com/engage, click on the Bonus Resource button, and you will be able to download the bonus resource as well as to view the show notes. All right, here we go. Here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  If you really want to serve others, you have to engage them, and then you want to develop them. Everything that you will accomplish as a leader ultimately hinges on the people you have around you. How true, how true, how true. Without this piece, your success as a leader will be greatly limited. Let me show you what I mean. Have you ever sat down and figured the cost of a bad hire? Let me give you six quick, and there are more than six. When I was writing this out, there were a dozen of them, I just reduced it to six because I thought six would put us in the pits.

The cost of a bad hire, number one, emotional energy. Does it not suck all of the emotional energy out of your body when you've got to go through a bad hire? Number two is time. Have you ever sat down and just calculated how much time you have to cover for a bad hire. Low morale. You get a bad hire, all of a sudden, everybody on the team realizes they're hitting the ball and dragging George, hitting the ball and dragging George, hitting the ball and dragging George. And everybody just wants to hit George. Isn't that true? Number four, declining performance. When you have a bad hire, it doesn't get better. It's downhill. Number five is missed opportunities. That's one we often don't think about because we see the performance is so poor that we just worry about what they're doing badly and we all of a sudden forget all the great opportunities that we're missing because we got Mr. McGoo on our team. Number six, recruiting, selecting, and training new people. You get a bad hire, and all of a sudden the of things that you should be doing that is proactive, recruiting, selecting, and training new people, all of a sudden, what are you doing? You're trying to stop the bad one from messing you up too badly.

In my book, Today Matters, I talk about the fact that every day we're doing one of two things, we are either preparing or repairing. Can I tell you something? When you have a bad hire, you spend your day repairing. Every time you have somebody that can't carry the load, you're going back to yesterday and trying to fix it, one more time. Peter Drucker was asked in your notes, What is the most important decision an executive makes? And he responded, Who does what. Getting the right people in the right jobs. The difference between a successful person and a successful leader is this. A successful person finds their niche, they find their sweet spot, they find their strength zone. Whenever you see somebody that's highly successful on their own, you basically know that they're doing something that they do real well. They have found their sweet spot. That's the sign of a successful person.

The sign of a successful leader is that he or she helps their people find their sweet spot. Are you with me? In other words, once you have found your sweet spot, your job is to go around and take your team and put them in their sweet spot. Get them out of their weaknesses, put them into where their strengths are. We're talking about engaging and developing others. This is all part of it. Go to your notes. Engaging others includes the level of buy in people have for three things. A cause, it's impossible to engage people in something that they do not think is a worthy cause. Number two, their work, not only do you engage them in what the cause is for, but what they're doing in that cause that really makes a difference.

And thirdly, you've got to have buy into the leader. Goes back to the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the law of the buy-in. the law of the buy-ins is what? Leaders buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. Here we go. The greatest waste in business is human potential. People are only your greatest assets if you're developing and engaging them. So, the leadership question is how can I capture the hearts and minds of my people? The leadership answer, you got to go to that person, you got to ask them, what captures your heart and mind?

Okay. So, I'm leading Mike here on the front and Mike's on my team. So, the question I've got to do is I look at Mike, I got to ask myself, how can I capture his heart? How can I capture his mind as a leader? What do I got to do to get the heart. the commitment from Mike? What have I got to do to get the mental energy from Mike to really make this team what it does? I've got to sit down with Mike, I've got to talk to him, I've got to ask him questions. There's an answer, but the answer isn't in telling, it's in listening.

Let me give you an example of how to capture person's mind or heart. This is just personal, so what I'm going to give you to write down in your notes is mine, it may not be yours. In fact, as I go through this, you may say that doesn't capture my mind or heart at all. That's okay, I don't know what your mind or heart is, but I can tell you what captures mine. And see, this is what you want to do. You want to go to your people and say, what captures your heart? What captures your mind? What would you live to die for? And, let me ask you a question, what would you like to give all of your mental energy for? You've got to ask those kind of...

For me, if you want to capture my heart and mind, nine things. I believe in the cause. If you're going to capture my heart and mind, I better believe in what we're doing. I got to believe in the cause. Number two, I got to believe in the leader. I can tell you right now, if I do not believe in the leader, I'm not about to give you my heart. Who wants to be led by stupidness, has no desire in mind. Dear God, I tell you right now, haven't you all had somebody who had to follow that was a terrible leader? How many of you ever had to follow a terrible leader? Just raise your hand, especially if you're a good leader. Nothing's more frustrating for a good leader to have to follow a lousy leader. Hut 2, 3, 4.

So, I believe in the cause, I've got to believe in the leader. Thirdly, I got to believe in the values. They've got to align with what mine are. Number four, I've got to have my responsibilities that are in my strength zone. In other words, if I'm really going to give you my heart and mind, I got to do something I can do well, because I can't do a lot of things well, so it's got to be in my strength zone. Number five, I have to be well trained. Number six, there's growth potential, both personally and professionally. I've got to look at this and say, my goodness, I can give my heart mind to this because I can grow personally, I can grow professionally. Number seven, this is huge for me, I got to like my team. Who wants to play on a team that you don't like? Number eight, personnel and resources are available for my success.

I want to be on a team that says, Look, we're going to resource you, we're going to bring people around you. And number nine, I have to know that I'm making a contribution. Now, these are nine things that capture my heart and mind. These are great questions. Ask them for yourself, then go to your key players and teach this to your key players and ask them what captures their heart and mind and get the response. Because, remember this, listen to me very, very carefully, listen to me, very carefully. Managers lead everyone the same and leaders lead everyone differently.

There's a hundred distinctions between managers and leaders, but there's none more clear than that. Managers think everybody needs to be led the same. And so they use the same techniques, the same methods, the same motivations to lead. Leaders don't do that. Leaders say, what I know about leading you is I have to know a lot about you. I've got to get your DNA on my radar screen because I got to lead you, not according to how I think you should be led. I need to lead you according to what captures your heart, what captures your mind. So, very simple. Make your own list of what captures your heart and mind like I did. Just take this right off the notes, you need to go back and have some thinking time on what captures my heart and mind. Find out what captures yours first and then ask that same question and find out what captures the heart and mind of the people that are on your team. Two questions I ask for every leader. Number one, what are you doing to invest in yourself? And number two, what are you doing to invest in others.

And developing others is the separation between the best leaders and the lesser leaders. And developing others includes one, creating the expectation of learning and growing. Number two, creating training and development opportunities. You got to provide training and development opportunities for them. Number three, you've got to provide equipping resources for them, things that you can put in their hands that will help them to get better. And four, mentoring. There even comes a mentoring responsibility there. And then you have questions, questions that you can ask on your own time, questions that will help you to say, okay, how am I doing in this area? Peter Drucker said the leader's objective is to leverage the strengths of the people and make their weaknesses become irrelevant.

So, what am I saying to you? I'm saying you got to go find the strengths of your people, not the weakness of people. Listen to me. I know so many people, they've got the finest effort in training program and they're wasting it on people that can't get it off the ground. How do you train a leader? Answer, find a potential leader. If you find a potential follower, you're not going to have a good training program with this person, no matter how wonderful your training program, development program is, if you've got the wrong people on the bus, you can go to work.

Mark Cole:       Thank you, John. Traci, I love John's quote. He says, "When you develop yourself, you add to your influence. When you develop others, you multiply your influence." Now John, in the lesson today, he talked about questions to assess your people development. And we included those on the bonus resource. Again, you can go to maxwellpodcast.com/engage, and you'll be able see that in the show notes. Traci, truly engaging and developing others is what leadership is all about.

Traci Morrow:  It sure is. And you know, I think I would like to start kind of working through this lesson at the end and go backwards a little bit because that's sort of how it hit my brain. And so, the first question that really came up as John was speaking was how much time do you, Mark, spend before a hire, after a hire, investing in them, figuring them out so you know where to place them or how to best lead them. How much time do you take in your many organizations at the front end? Because John says, if we aren't preparing, then we end up repairing on the backside. And so, what kind of preparation does that look like for you?

Mark Cole:       Well, we just are privileged recently to add a COO to our team, and he comes from a couple of billion dollar organization down to in sizeable from comparison there to our small organization. And he said to me, he said, Wow, I've never been in an interview process that thorough. So, according to Matt, he would say that we're very thorough on the front end. It was about a two month process to make sure with that hire, and that included things like my wife and I and his wife and I just connecting to make sure that we were carrying and pursuing the same vision. Every one of our hires goes through a three part process, and sometimes that takes eight, 10 weeks, sometimes we can answer that in two to three, but it's character, which is is there a values match? Not morals and ethics, but values.

And then, there is we answer the question on competence. Do they have the skill sets and the ability? And then, ultimately, we're answering the culture questions. So, competence, character, and culture is a huge piece of ours. Once they're on board, for instance, Matt, right now, at the recording of this podcast, Matt is in a 90 day window to where he's not leading anything, he's observing everything. Again, let me say that again. He's not leading anything, he's observing everything. Because I don't believe that you can rip fences up if you don't know why they were placed in the first place.

Traci Morrow:  Mm, that's good.

Mark Cole:       Every one of our leaders, especially if they're a leader of people or leader of entire parts of the organization, goes through a 90 day observe and learn and listen phase. And so, we're pretty methodical before we set people free. So, Matt will have been in interview or in observing phase for five months before he's actually given something to go create, execute on or eliminate. He's on the team for a while.

Traci Morrow:  Okay. So, is that something that you've always done? Is that something that is developed over time? Because I can only imagine we have a broad to spectrum of leaders listening in our podcast, audience and our friends who are developing themselves. And so, this might be something that's completely new to them, actually. And so, is that new for you, number one, and number two, are they all, no matter what the position, is it a five month time, do you and Stephanie have dinner with all of them or is it depending on what position that they hold?

Mark Cole:       I recommend that out of work environment, anybody that is hiring a direct report, go through the exercise that I just did. So, my hope is that what I just described as being done throughout the entire organization, I personally do that with my direct reports. And my expectation is is anybody that is hiring someone, do some variation of that, but not a big deviation. So, make it yours, make it your own, but don't deviate too much. So, there is offsite, out of work environments that we're trying to create to make sure that we're hiring the best teammates.

Traci Morrow:  How much of that really does have to do... Because I know Dave Ramsey does something similar, with he and his wife, meeting with people. And I'm just curious, how much of a role does Stephanie play in feedback for you?

Mark Cole:       In direct reports of me, a lot. Because, the goal is for them to help carry a load that I am either currently carrying or if they don't carry it, it will end up on my plate. And so, there is an awareness and an intuition that I'm leaning into a lot in those kind of hires and those kind of teammates, that I need somebody that is vested in my best, 360. At home, spiritually, she's asking a lot of questions to make sure that we're hitting it there.

Traci Morrow:  Do you and Stephanie talk about those questions ahead of time.? Have those questions morphed over time or is it just... Is it that Stephanie's a great intuitive partner to you or is it that you guys have discussed what part she brings? I'm just thinking if I'm listening to this and I've never thought of this before, and I want to bring Casey involved in this, what would I want that the meeting before the meeting to be with my spouse or significant other?

Mark Cole:       So, it's going to depend on your spouse, your significant other, for sure. Stephanie does not like boxes, so there is no predisposed these are the three things that you do. That would be more disruptive for us than helpful for the entire experience. So, Stephanie is very much free to go with her intuition and what works for her. There may be a significant other from one of our listeners that would really want a plan laid out. If that's what you want and that's what you need, do that. I'm not out that prescriptive because it wouldn't work. So, she knows that she's there to answer the question, she knows that she's there to connect with the other significant other of the person. And, she knows that, ultimately, her ability to feel like this is going to be a win for the hire and for the team at large is her role and responsibility.

Traci Morrow:  I know this is diving in a little bit on this one particular issue, but have you ever had a situation where you had a blind spot about a potential hire and Stephanie gave you feedback that you hadn't even seen?

Mark Cole:       Multiple times. And so, we don't move forward.

Traci Morrow:  Oh. That's powerful. That's powerful right there. Okay. So, I am curious, how do you tell, if you've done all that work before, or maybe you haven't, the difference between a bad hire or a potential leader in process who just isn't developed. You've brought them onto the team they gave their best foot forward, they get onto the team and you start seeing some things that is maybe disruptive to the team, in general. And how do you discern whether that's a bad hire or they're just in development?

Mark Cole:       Well, so, number one, all of our people, the same thing I said a little earlier, everyone is on a 90 day observation and by the time... But let me say this, observation does not mean I'm not debriefing with them, I'm not checking in on them, I'm not asking them how they would handle a situation because I know most companies probably do this. We do a 90 day probation period for everybody. We want to both be able to look each other, the new teammate and myself as the leader, and we want to say, Hey, we feel good about moving forward. Do we feel good that this is what we want to do. Because again, we're a people development organization, Traci, and the worst thing to do is to leave somebody in the room that are in a position that is not appropriate for the position.

I have found replacing somebody, as costly as that is, as frustrating as that is, is better than keeping somebody that is not a fit for the team. And, too many people try to force it and make it happen when they already have a gut check or an uncertainty after 90 days. So, if you get through the interview process and in the 90 days, we still have not resonated with this being right, then we absolutely will change and go a different direction. And we do it for the benefit of the person as much as we do it as the benefit for the organization.

Traci Morrow:  Yeah. Yeah. Well, we could go on forever. To me, punch that packed the most power to me when he said a successful person is in their sweet spot, a successful leader gets others in their sweet spot. And so, thanks for sharing a little bit behind the curtain of how it goes for your hires, because I know we all respect you and want to learn from how you are implementing all that as we work to get other people on our team in their sweet spot,

Mark Cole:       Well, Traci, it's interesting. We've done a couple of episodes recently that I want to direct people to. If this episode really works with you and you want to go deeper, we did an episode not too long ago called Building Relationships - Working Together Means Winning Together. And then we also did one called Core Values of a Winning Team. My challenge, if you're listening today, go to maxwellpodcast.com/engage, look at the show notes and we'll put the link in there for you to go a little deeper on this episode. Traci, I always feel like we don't have enough time and here we are again today, but what a great lesson engage and developing others. That is what we're all about.

Traci Morrow:  That's right.

Mark Cole:       Leaders, whether you know it or not, that's what you're about. So, we hope we've added value to you today. Here's what I want you to do. Of course, download the show notes, give us a comment, tell us how we're doing, tell us things that we can do to be more effective in your leadership journey and then finally, challenge somebody else to subscribe and join you and learn together on the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. Thanks for joining us today. Let's lead. Let's change the world. Let's be great leaders together. See you next week.

2 thoughts on “Engaging and Developing Others”

  1. I work in a group of schools in England and have this year started running a leadership training course, I have been listening every day to this podcast and the Executive Leadership podcast.

    What you guys do and share is invaluable to me, I have connected so much with the content you are sharing. I take notes every day in a notebook and reflect throughout the day on how it applies to our setting and incorporating the teachings in my sessions.

    You are truly adding value to myself, but I am endeavouring to share this with others. In schools here we do not do enough to train Leaders, as a result we end up with Leaders who Lead from their position (level 1) and as they climb the ladder they exhibit more and more traits of insecure leadership. I am hoping that what I am offering, with the help of your teachings at the John Maxwell Company can have an impact on the growth of others and improve the leadership culture we have.

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