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The best managers do THIS for us (today, tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that).

When was that last time you can say someone else nurtured you as a person? Maybe it was a coach? A parent? An aunt, uncle, grandparent? A teacher, maybe.

What about at work? When was the last time someone nurtured you at work?

There's a good chance that word sounds a bit too...intimate to you for the corporate world. Usually we reserve it for describing our relationship with our children. Or maybe a plant.

But really, when we commit to accepting another living being into our care, isn’t nurturing exactly what we are committing to do? When we become responsible for a child, we don’t just think of our job as providing food and water, so they’ll get taller. We think about meeting them where they’re at, understanding who they are and what they dream about. We think of coming alongside them and caring for these hopes and dreams throughout their lives. We think of helping them through their disappointments and failures. We think about doing our part to help them become their very best version of themselves.

We think about bringing out the best in them, don’t we?

The best Managers do the same thing for their employees.

Jack Welch said it this way:

When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.

This is what it means to nurture. The best managers I ever worked for didn’t just give me food and water – a desk and a phone, tasks to complete, a pay cheque and some benefits. The best Managers I ever worked for nurtured me. They took good care of me in a way that made it safe for me to grow myself.

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time (as in, more than 10 minutes) you’ll have heard me cite the Gallup research that reveals there is a new Great Global Dream emerging. It has has been emerging over the last 20-30 years. Eighty years ago, when Gallup asked people about “their best life imaginable” we collectively answered with things like family, home ownership or a peaceful existence.

Today though, when they ask us about our best life imaginable...?

We describe a great job.

1) A living wage,

2) the chance to grow, and

3) work that matters.

To nurture the people who work for us, is to honour this great global dream by giving people around us the chance to grow. It’s all well and good to ensure we deliver results. But just like at the end of the day we won’t wish we’d spent more time at the office…we’re also not going to be lying on our death beds relishing in the bottom lines we created or the efficiency we improved.

We are going to be thinking about the people we nurtured. The people who did something they didn’t even think they could do, just because we showed up. Hopefully, we'll be looking back on a long line of people who got somewhere new, because we decided to nurture them.

Getting results is our oxygen as managers – we must show up and achieve our goals, steward our budgets, make processes better.


If getting results is what keeps us alive, then nurturing others is what brings us to life. Focusing only on getting results is spending our whole lives just making sure we have enough money to eat and live. It’s not very satisfying.

Nurturing others makes your work more fulfilling AND simultaneously enhances your ability to get consistent results. Over the long term, people who are nurtured in their workplaces are more motivated, more engaged and more productive. They stay in their jobs longer. They give more discretionary effort.

Investing in relationships helps you achieve results. Investing in results helps you build your relationships. Results feed your relationships. Your relationships feed your results. Results and relationships both need each other and feed each other.

What does it mean to nurture others? It really boils down to 3 things. The people in your care are saying 3 things to you, when they ask for “the chance to grow”:

1) Know Me

2) Challenge Me

3) Support Me

Think back on your life for a minute, and write down the name of someone who really helped you grow. It could be a coach, a music teacher, a boss, a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle.

Think about how they showed up in your life. Did they know you well? Did they see your strengths? Did they stretch you, challenge you, to take some risks, to try new things? Did they support you in everything, even if things didn’t work out?

Chances are, if you look back on a stretch of time when you grew exponentially, you will also see someone in your life who knew you, who challenged you, and who supported you. They were personally committed to your success.

As you go about your day-to-day work as a Manager, make it a priority to nurture your people.

Get to know someone better everyday. It could be as simple as starting your meetings with a simple question "What was the best thing that happened today?" or "What is the best gift that you have ever received?"

Challenge someone everyday. It could be as simple as asking the question "What will be a stretch for you to complete this week?" or "What are your currently worried about in your department? What would it look like to move this forward?"

Support someone everyday. It could be as simple as a word of encouragement or acknowledgement "I saw how you handled that angry customer. You were so genuine and understanding with them, I actually think you might have made their day." Questions are great for offering support to: "What's one thing I could do (or stop doing) that would make it easier for you to work with me?"

As with most things in life, getting this right is more about doing small things consistently, than doing epic things once in awhile. Incorporate a nurturing mindset - backed with the personal discipline to take action everyday - and make turn that great global dream into a great global reality for your people.


The Skillful Manager Program develops exceptional Managers: Managers who Get Results. Managers who Nurture Others. Managers who Build your Legacy. You can learn more about our training programs here.

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