After over 20 years serving in various leadership roles, I know that one of the priorities leaders must perform is helping those they lead find their path. During my leadership and management journey I have helped my direct reports identify the best move for them both inside and outside of the organization many times.
What is the Path? That’s for you to discover. Maybe it’s a path to promotion, personal development, career pathing or simply better understanding of their purpose in life.
Here are some actions you can take to Help Others Find Their Path.
1. Conduct Consistent Career Conversations & Planning Sessions
To help others find their path, whether you are their direct supervisor or not, you must have intentional conversations to understand their ambitions, interests and growth objectives. The most effective way to do this is to schedule quarterly sessions focused solely on Career planning and ensure that during each session a review of what was accomplished since the last quarterly conversation and then plan for the next quarter’s activities occurs.
I recommend you start with an overall picture of where the individual is currently. This can be done with a personal SWOT assessment.
Strengths: What they naturally do well, where they currently excel in their skills, knowledge, etc.
Weaknesses: The areas in which they might be struggling or an area that needs skill development.
Opportunities: Opportunities that exist that they may not have yet identified and ones you can help them see.
Threats: What might be preventing them from growing or achieving what they desire and any obstacles. 2. Discover Strengths and Preferences through Assessments Digging deeper into their strengths, you can help them more formerly identify their strengths via an assessment tool such as StrengthsFinder. StrengthsFinder is a low-cost way to help them find the answer if they are unable to accurately self-assess.
Other ways to help them understand themselves and their behavioral preferences might include having them do a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. As an online free option similar to MBTI you could leverage 16 Personalities. Other behavioral assessments you might explore include DiSC and Enneagram. All of these assessments help a person understand their default personality or behavior style.
Let’s all remember that behavior can be learned so even if a behavior or style is not naturally conducive to success in a particular arena, whatever can help a person be successful – CAN BE LEARNED. No one is stuck in a specific mold. 3. Determine Ladder vs. Jungle Gym When thinking of career success, many only envision “Climbing the Ladder” to success, however in reality many times the journey is more reflective of a Jungle Gym and it may include steps back and laterally along the way to gain new skill sets and resets when desires change.
My own journey has included several of these moves and was not a straight incline. When you experience any kind of change such as a pursuit of entrepreneurship, have an extended absence from work, go from an Indvidual producer to a leadership role or change industries; there will always be adjustment periods. These may seem like plateaus at the time, but ultimately it will support the path if it aligns with a person’s individual desires.
When you’re assisting another find their path – keep this in mind. There’s always more than one route to the end result. Helping others to be ok with the jungle gym route vs ladder and showing others that learning to enjoy and appreciate the journey are valuable.
A jungle gym move may in the long run be the best thing for a person, especially if the ladder was not aligned with their pursuits. 4. Identify Opportunities for Mentoring & Networking One of the key things you can do to help a person find their path is also help them identify work and professional relationships that can assist them on their path.
Very few “make it” on their own. Finding a formal or informal mentor can help many. A mentor is not typically the direct leader or coach of a person. The mentor / mentee relationship should be based on mutual commitment, support and be a win/win. I have worn the hat of both Mentor and Mentee at different points in my journey.
If you’re part of an organization that offers a formal mentoring program, direct others to it. I’m currently a member of two non-profit organizations that have a mentoring program for its new members. In addition, I’ve worked for organizations that have formal programs. They all work well in supporting a person to find their path.
If a formal mentoring match is not available, can you become the person that will introduce another to a potential mentor? Can you connect others to a supportive network? Networking is many times associated with an external sales development effort. Networking internally within the organization can be an essential part of finding a path.
Getting to know others in different departments can provide exposure to new ways of thinking and working. It can also open up the world of potential for a person that feels they have nowhere else they can move to from their current role.
If you’re the leader of the person you are guiding, can they take on a role or responsibility that puts them on a work committee where they interact with different departments? Can you leverage a unique skill they have to help them stand-out? 5. Support Skill Development In and outside of the workplace a person can develop new skills. Here are some questions to consider:
Is a formal degree or accreditation required for the person’s path?
Can the skill be developed on the job?
Are there courses offered by the organization that can help develop the desired skill?
Are there organizations or clubs that will support the skill development?
Answering these questions can help the person identify some action steps they may need to take to develop the necessary skills they need on their path. Do what you can to support their skill development. This could include helping them leverage programs, access funds and make it a priority.
Think of how others have helped you on your path – what did they do? Share what you have done or have received from others on your path by becoming a site member and posting a comment. We’d love to know what you think!