Ask The Experts

How to develop the ‘enterprising’ spirit in employees


I find that the people in my organisation are rather ‘soft’, ‘reserved’ and ‘careful’ when it comes to taking on challenging tasks or making tough decisions. It has, therefore, become a habit for them to turn to me for help and inadvertently I find this stops them from growing in maturity.

Personality-wise, they are nice, polite and well-mannered, which are good traits. However, I would like them to be a little more ‘outrageous’ in their ways; for instance in taking on projects entirely on their own, speaking their minds, coming up with ideas that are uncommon or extraordinary, handling tough customers or staff, and so on.

I have been waiting for them to ‘grow up’ but my wait has been in vain, unfortunately. This is why I do not have many leaders among them till today.

I acknowledge that they are loyal to me, but that alone will not sustain the organisation on a longer term. What do I need to do in order to accelerate the process of growing them?


It is difficult to comment on your leadership style with the information given, but what I can say from experience is that when people behave like what you described, the leader (parents are included in this category) has either been very protective or too controlling of these people.

The consequence of this is that they become obedient and dependent on their leaders. While this is a good in ego-booster for their leaders to affirm how powerful they are, the trade-off is that they do not grow to face the challenges in their lives – both personally and professionally.

You need to be firm and assertive about how you want them to be and create an environment with leadership practices that support them in taking risks and experiment with their learning.

This can be done in the form of a weekly review where they go through with you on what they have done weekly, instead of keeping your door open for them on daily basis.

The crux of this move is to build their independence and self-sustaining behaviour, ultimately accelerating their learning to become more enterprising people.

You can also actively reinforce their mentality in the workplace too, for instance, by encouraging them to challenge your ideas, giving praise whenever you notice something original, or even organising a regular ‘Idea Conference’, where they are required to come up with new ideas on improving their work unit or organisation.

All these should be able to accelerate their growth gradually. All the best to you.

Powerful Questions You Can Ask Yourself:

• What kind of organisation do you want to have?

• What are the traits in your people that will identify well for this?

• What are the good qualities of your people that can be leveraged on to attain your vision?

• What are you prepared to do differently so that they will act differently to?

Article by Dr Michael Heah, an ICF Master Certified Coach with