Leadership is About Building Potential


There are people who think that the most valuable skill a leader can have is thinking strategically. Leaders need to set goals, then plan the steps it will take to achieve those goals.

Other people think that, more than anything else, leaders need to be able to communicate. A strong leader has a unique vision, and they draw other people into their efforts to make their vision reality.

Some people think that leaders need to understand the numbers, some that leadership is all about seeing the big picture.

The leaders who inspire me recognize and build potential.

My life and work have been transformed by leaders who saw potential in me. They would not allow me to give up, no matter how tired or how frustrated I became. They would listen and, when I finished complaining, say, “I know you can do it.”

The leaders who saw my potential were often the best at seeing potential in other people, in organizations, in situations. They taught me how to discover and build potential.

One of the leaders who most inspired me at a very important time told me how she did it. The biggest challenge she had in exploring potential was appreciating her own.

She explained that her key to seeing potential was knowing herself well. She needed to go beyond her assumptions, expectations, and snap judgements to see who she really was. It takes hard work and patience.

When she had gotten to know herself well, she could be honest about her potential. Building a clear picture of her own potential helped her also see other people clearly.

Building my potential may be the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.

Where do you see potential in the people around you?

How does your leadership build potential?

[Image by D. Sharon Pruitt]

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