Amber Vanderburg is a multi award winning international businessperson, keynote speaker, and founder of The Pathwayz Group.  She works with international teams that struggle with co worker tension, inefficient processes, and unmet performance expectations to become more effective, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Amber is also our regular keynote speaker at Stretch Conference and will be back again this year to teach you something new about leadership! In the meantime, read her take on how she gets the most out of her employees.

When I was about 10 years old I was playing at my friend’s house. She lived on a large plot of land and was excited because her dad had installed a new zip line.

I tried the zipline and I loved the flying sensation! Later, my little sister who was age 4 visited the house and I couldn’t wait to show her the new adventure. My sister (dubbed “Minivan” as she is the youngest Vanderburg) is more cautious and often times I “strongly encouraged” her to go along with whatever adventure, escapade, or shenanigans I planned. As you can imagine, growing up and being my little sister probably wasn’t the easiest role in all the world.

MiniVan was not enthusiastic about the zipline but I strongly encouraged her to try the new experience. I helped her up the tall tree and explained that she was going to hold on to the handles really tight, and soon she would be flying. I was giddy with excitement, I knew that she would forget about her fear when she experienced the amazing flying sensation.

I saw that she was holding on to the handles and then I said, “Ready, Go!” as I pushed my sister out of the tree… but not out to fly. She fell out of the tree tumbling to the ground. Apparently, she wasn’t holding on as tight as I thought.

So often, as a business leader, it is my job to push my employees to be more, do more, and dream more. Understand the fine balance between pushing your team members to fly, and pushing your team members out of a tree. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

First, build a relationship and make observations to assess how and how much a person can be effectively pushed.

Every person is different and it is important to build a relationship to assess how a person can handle various challenges, types of stress, and motivation. To assess push levels effectively, look at past situations and compare present situations. Reflect on similar situations in which the person used the skill set, the challenge level, or the challenge dynamic. As I grew older, I realized that MiniVan didn’t enjoy heights. Had I realized this as a 10-year-old, I probably would have reassessed my initial approach and encouragement of the new adventure.

Then, communicate.

What if I had communicated with Minivan more clearly? What if I truly asked if she was ready? What if I had listened for her response to the ready question? What if I had made certain she had a firm grip on the handle? Perhaps I could have pushed MiniVan to fly instead of fall. From my observations, she appeared to have a proper grip on the handle. If I had spoken to MiniVan, I would have discovered she had her hands in position but didn’t yet have a tight grip. Communicate.

Also, know limits and make adjustments where needed.

In hindsight, perhaps Minivan was holding on with a proper grip and I pushed too hard. It’s possible, I was really pumped for her to try a new experience. There’s nothing wrong with pushing people, but be mindful of the limits of each person.

As a leader and as a coach, it’s a part of our job description to encourage and push people to be more. But here’s what I want you to do today, look at the people that you are leading and ask, “Based off my relationship and knowledge of the person — Should I push more? Should I push differently? Should I adjust or alter the way that I push others to be more?”

This is how you can position yourself in a way to push people to fly rather than pushing them out of a tree.

This article was originally published by Amber on her own site.
If you liked Amber’s approach and would like to learn more from her or want to deepen your knowledge of leadership and management with the leading experts in the field, join us this year at Stretch Conference. Don’t miss out on one of the biggest management conferences of the year, get your tickets now!