This blog post originally appeared on Press Start Leadership
One of my favorite things is finding and developing top talent, AKA unicorns. I’ve had the good fortune of discovering and training numerous unicorns throughout my career. Sometimes I helped prepare them for leadership roles, and sometimes different roles were better suited for their skillset, but every single one of them made me proud to be part of their journey.
I like to think everyone is awesome, or more precisely put, everyone has their own awesome to share with the world. Unfortunately, not everyone had a loving, supportive family base that encouraged them to shine. Because of that, I’ve found many unicorns hiding among the horses, ready to step out into the light. If you look hard enough, you’ll find them too.
How do you know when you’ve found a potential unicorn? They may not always be the most confident, most vocal, or most outgoing (the most “most” if you will), but they will often be the kindest, wisest, and most ingenious. Overcoming what they lack and harvesting what they have is the ultimate goal of a unicorn wrangler, so look for the good traits and coach them through the rest.
Some Tips for Raising Unicorns:
Look for the Best in Everyone. Don’t let your personal judgements prevent you from seeing the good in others. Everyone is awesome in their own way.
Genuinely Care. Like, for real, care about people. If you truly want others to succeed, you have to want the best for them. In some cases, that means putting the needs of others before your own. Remember, this is not about making you feel good, it’s about making others feel good. That’s your reward.
Build Trust. It’s likely your hidden unicorns haven’t heard the words of encouragement they needed before, or expect you to want something in return. This is all new for them, and trust takes time, so take the time to build their trust.
Remember Consistency. Consistency is key. You have to be consistent in praise, mentorship, and everything you do in order to build trust. Show up for them.
Encourage Them. Many unicorns-in-waiting hesitate to try something out of their comfort zone, even if you know they can knock it out of the park. A lot of people have doubts, insecurities, and past experiences that keep them from striving for something more. Be patient and hype them up.
Be Sincere. It’s crucial to deliver on your promises. Don’t commit to promotions, training, or other goodies if you can’t follow through. If there are delays, communicate them so your mentee feels informed and supported. Empty promises do nothing but hurt the person on the receiving end.
Be Ready to Console Them. There will be setbacks. Much like in your own journey, your unicorn may not get that shiny new role on the first try. This comes with disappointment and may set them back a bit. Be there to let them know it’s okay, and encourage them to keep trying.
If you do all these things, you just might end up with a field full of unicorns, so start making some magic happen!
Do you have any tips on bringing out the best in your employees? Comment below! And be sure to check out my new YouTube channel.