“What if the act of believing in others was part of the trajectory, the catalyst even, to fuel others to live the best version of themselves?” —Ted Egly, in Believing In Others.
As a leader, supervisor, coach, facilitator, team lead, or change agent, your role is to help “grow” people to be the best they can be. One practical framework to help you do just that is Appreciative Inquiry (AI*); it is a strength-based approach to growing people for inspired change.
Starting from an AI stance, people, teams, organizations and communities are not viewed as “problems to be solved”, but rather as complex systems whose positive core is to be embraced and amplified.
Facilitate these four powerful questions, and you will succeed as a leader in focusing your people on their strengths, and in helping to lift them to the best version of themselves.
1 – Discover Today’s Best
In practical terms, the act of believing in others begins by opening an inquiry with your employee, team or group into what works now. Ask, “What is the best version of who we (you) are today?”
2- Build the Future on This Best
The next concrete step is to help fuel others and ignite the circuits of their highest potential by inviting and facilitating an energizing exploration to envisage “who might we (you) be – building on that best?”
3 – Translate Ideals Into Positive Action
Vision without action is an unrealized dream. As a facilitative leader, engage others to translate their ideals into reality by challenging the status quo and asking, ‘what should be in place?” to build on today’s best and to support individual / collective action towards the realization of the desired future?
4 – Inspire Commitment to that Action
And finally empower others to act, by asking, “what are we (you) willing to actually do? What inspired and innovative actions are your employee, team, or group willing to commit to taking in order to bring about the chosen future? Unleash that energy, support their initiative and watch them grow – as people and as a higher performing team, organization or community.
In my work as a professional facilitator, I strive to consistently incorporate AI into any group process – whether it is a small team or an entire system. This helps counters our societal tendency to focus on problems, deficits, negative and concerns . I have found that starting appreciatively (and however briefly), reminds participants of their strengths and power, and communicates my belief as a facilitative leader in their capacity to capably and innovatively address what is before them. Test this out for yourself and watch your people grow!
*Source: Positive Images, Positive Action, Professor David Cooperider