“This was only the start of my journey with Care & Growth as it fundamentally changed the way I started to lead.  The Empowerment model taught me how to act with consistency and fairness towards the people that I was responsible for.”

Looking back at first leadership role in my early twenties, I cringe at what I thought good leadership was.  I was responsible for a sales team which was a group of young graduates. They wanted to work for one of the top private banks within South Africa. This role was in the insurance division of the bank. And, for most, was a foot in the door to a career within private banking.  Although, their first passion was not Insurance Broking.

My team consisted of ten direct reports. They were “qualified” young men with loads of energy and very little focus. So here I was managing a group of twenty something “know it all’s”. While still trying my utmost to maintain the promise of best advice and excellent service to our clients.

The only other leadership experience I had prior to heading up this sales team was my previous direct report. She was my insurance administrator.  She was super-efficient, so our partnership worked well. I am what you can refer to as a bit of workaholic, I love continuous improvement, if you ask me what am I thinking about, it will always be “what can we improve on”.

“Good Structure”

My direct reports did not necessarily share the same passion and mindset. Therefore, I decided that  being disciplined and structured was the way to get on the right track. This way, we could  achieve and exceed our targets.

I would start the week off with an 08h00 am sales meeting on Monday mornings.  We would discuss targets for the week, run through all the activities which needed more focus and drive and then end-off the meeting with a call to action for them to “Go for Gold”.

The buy-in to this process was less than stellar. I found myself literally pushing this massive boulder (team of 10) up a hill in-order to get things going.  There was traction and our sales conversion rates improve substantially. However, it was far from going the extra mile. And ended up doing just what they needed to in-order to just get by.

I believed (like my line manager) that it was my responsibility to get results through people.  It was only when I came across the Care & Growth Leadership model, that I understood why my approach with my team was not yielding the results that one would expect from all the effort that was being put in.

Introducing Care & Growth

I was introduced to the Care & Growth model by a colleague over lunch when I expressed my frustration with sales consultant. He had not been performing for several months and I was at the point of starting a poor performance process. My colleague was a single mom to a young child. And I was aware of the financial pressure that she was under whilst being employed, never mind not having an income!

My colleague said, “Eunice it’s quite simple, have you given her the means and the ability to deliver on the sales targets?”. I responded by saying, well, what do you mean? And that was when she took me through the Empowerment model. This model is simplistic yet exceptional tool to support leaders in setting up their reports for success.

What I’ve learnt is that Care & Growth provides a cheatsheet on how to enable your employees to be they best they can be. As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide them with feedback, standards, expectations and giving them the authority to complete the task. This is what they call the means. You also need to provide them with the ability. This entails making sure they understand how they contribute to the bigger picture, helping them understand the “why” and the “how”. Only after you have given them all they require, may you hold them accountable.

Care & Growth in that moment changed my view and understanding of my role as a Leader.  The Empowerment model accounts for both the Leaders responsibility as well as that of the direct report. Over the last 15 years this tool became the foundation of how I started to elicit discretionary effort from my direct reports.

To read more on the Care & Growth model, please buy the book, Leadership: The Care & Growth Model

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