Digging for Gold

Andrew Carnegie, once the wealthiest man on earth, came from humble beginnings. As a young boy, he worked a number of odd jobs. His hard work, industrious nature, and persistence eventually led him to become the largest steel manufacturer in the United States.

Once, during an interview, Carnegie was asked how he had hired 43 millionaires. At that time, being a millionaire was very uncommon. It would be similar to a person having $25 to $30 million in today’s dollars. Carnegie was quick to correct the reporter. He had hired 43 people who had become millionaires while working for him.

The reporter then asked how Carnegie had made them millionaires. He replied that developing people is like digging for gold. You sometimes have to remove a lot of unwanted dirt before you can find the first nugget of gold. But you don’t go looking for the dirt, you look for the gold.

I don’t know if that story is true, but it does contain a nugget of truth for IT leaders. When developing members of your team, look for their positive characteristics and build upon them. Give your team affirming and corrective feedback regularly. Be intentional in your delegation. Realize that mistakes will be made along the way; help your team to learn from them and continually improve.

The old adage “you find what you’re looking for” holds true. If you look for failures, you will find him. If you look for the gold, it will be there. Develop it, refine it, and you will be rewarded as a leader.

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