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How to bring out the best in your company’s leaders

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Quinton Douman

On a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town a few weeks ago, I took out my laptop and decided to watch one of my favourite movies, The Goal. It’s an oldie but a goody and also a great source of inspiration for me. It’s about a young man, Santiago, who works as a gardener with his dad in Los Angeles, but has dreams of a better life.

By the end of the story, his dreams become a reality – he starts playing for a top UK football team. Like many inspiring stories, his diligence and resolve were critical to his achievement. However, there were three other elements that were just as important, though not as obvious.

Firstly, for him to be able to pursue this dream, despite the challenges (including the limiting beliefs of his father), he needed to be fully connected to his purpose. Secondly, he needed to be connected to the right people. Lastly, he needed to be connected to the appropriate resources. One could argue that even though he was extremely gifted and talented, without these three things, he would not have realised his dream.

The star of the movie (for me at least) was Glen Foy, the guy who by chance notices Santiago, sees the young man’s potential and resolves to do everything in his power to open the doors that will lead to a better life for him.

He fights for this boy’s dream as if he was fighting for his own. Despite humiliation and rejection, he maintains his resolve when it comes to ensuring that young Santiago is given a real chance to succeed. He goes out of his way to connect Santiago to his purpose (and the right people and resources).

It made me think, with a strong feeling of gratitude, of the great leaders I have had in my life. In my first job as a trainer, my manager, Pat Maitse, sat me down, looked me in the eyes, and explained to me the importance of my role and how lifting the performance of the people we trained would impact their lives.

Knowing the ‘why’ of the role motivated me to become better at the ‘how’ of the role. Also, the fact that my highest values and my natural talents were aligned to the role gave me a great sense of purpose.

My former manager’s very next move was to connect me to the resources and the people I needed to succeed in the role. Almost two decades later, I still find myself highly committed to this purpose.

If you have been blessed with the great privilege of leading people and you are passionate about opening the doors that will help them to live better lives, then consider making the following three connections a key component of your role.

Firstly, connect people to purpose. Continuously talk to your team about why their roles exist and how these roles impact the rest of the organisation, as well as society. Work hard to establish a connection between the purpose of the role and its highest values.

Secondly, connect people to people. Help them grow their circle by introducing them to the right contacts: potential clients, people in other departments, people with influence, mentors and so on.

Finally, connect people to resources. Whether it is technology, education, or materials, it is our job as leaders to be aware of all the resources required to lift the performance of our people and then to ensure that these are available. If for some reason we cannot make the resources available, then we need to assist in finding creative ways to work around this, as an interim measure.

Quinton Douman is the managing director of 212 Business Consulting, a personal-development expert and an internationally certified corporate speaker.

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