Prove it! Growing Leaders One Proof at a Time

They think it can’t be done. You do. Now you’ve got to prove it. Game on. Nothing’s more inspirational than having something to prove.

My team has spent the last 2 years proving “the impossible.” The more folks told us “it” wouldn’t work, the more fired up we got.

We wanted to prove that culture drives results– and culture can be built. It’s not only about extrinsic rewards. Engagement counts. So do trusted relationships. Partner. Inspire. Give both ways. Through an extensive collaboration across multiple companies, we’re creating complex proof that culture matters. Proving it is fun, inspiring, and leaves us salivating for more.

The hungry for more part is important, because proving yourself is never handled. Bill Treasurer told me, “even at your funeral, it’s likely you still will be proving something.” Leaders need to get used to that inspiring feeling. Prove yourself early and often then do it again.

5 Ways to “Prove It”

Tap into your team’s innate desire to “prove” something. They will grow. Magic will happen. Results will breakthrough. You’ll have some fun. Here’s how.

  1. Offer challenging assignments
    Offer projects that stretch your team beyond their comfort zone. Find impossible missions. Pick work that’s closely aligned with their innate passion or career goals.
  2. Create concrete goals
    The goal must be clear. What exactly are you looking to prove? How will you know when you have achieved it?
  3. Find some naysayers
    Create a rallying cry to “prove it” to those guys goes a long way
  4. Scaffold their growth
    Be the guy that believes in the mission, leave the nay saying to the others. It doesn’t feel good to have to prove something to your boss. Support them as they prove it to others.
  5. Repeat the cycle
    Celebrate the proofs, and then be ready with the next challenge. Keep them growing.
Posted in Communication and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. As we are launching our own company….my wife and I feel like we are “Prove It” mode daily to almost everyone.

    We are tracking and celebrating wins, not to boast and gloat about the win. But to “re-prove it” to ourselves. I love the motivation to prove it to others, and I keep the drive when I prove it to myself.

  2. I’ve found the best way to prove something is to have the team be part of the vision. This way, they can say whether or not we’ve achieved success or not and why.

  3. Karin, I shall be selfish. I shall not tell a story this time. All I have is a wish.
    My last presentation on Nature Derived management Systems” I discussed that most systems have either four of five repeating blocks. For that reason I put them on a helical structure.
    I can’t find a better example to fit this approach than this post of yours. You have five blocks that putting them on a DNA-like helices shall lead to some great thinking. I wish I had this example before writing the presentation.

  4. I like #3…but that is just my personality style.

    When I was in college and left the University of Tennessee for Middle Tennessee State, one of the guys on the team said, “you’re leaving the penthouse for the outhouse.”

    On the surface it seemed that way. A year later almost to the day I wrote an email to the team at MTSU with those comments. We ended up going to the school’s first NCAA Championship and finished ranked one spot higher than UT. Now MTSU is consistently doing that.

    It was definitely motivating.

    • Matt, YES! Love your story. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It reminds me of the time someone thought I belonged in the second heat of swimming. I cut 5 seconds off my time and won the race 😉

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