Are You Letting Your Team Outgrow Their Past?

Most leaders mature (and yes, that’s me on the right). And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time, it’s their old image that sticks. Be sure you’re helping your team outgrow their past.

I’ve seen too many companies go “in search of” the ideal candidate, hire them, and then find they had the right guy all along (after the first one didn’t work out). In fact, I’ve been that guy.

This post was inspired by a recent post by Dan Rockwell encouraging his readers to overcome their past. Brilliant insights. As I was reading it, my heart felt heavy for all the leaders I know who are desperately trying to escape their past and can’t grow beyond their early reputations.

“The past is a weight that grows heavier with the passage of time. Little mistakes grow larger. Offenses get heavier. Failures persecute.” -Dan Rockwell

Most leaders mature. And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time it’s their old image that sticks.

Be brave enough to see who’s really showing up.

Anticipate maturity and watch it florish.

Don’t miss out on the most fun part of being a leader– watching others grow.

Be an advocate.

Don’t overlook the game changers who were once young, naive and a little overly _________(brash, politically inept, unconfident, overconfident).

You were too.

Who do you need to give a second chance to?

What are you going to do this year to take your leadership development program to the next level? Call me at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Communication, confident humility and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of several books: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates (Harper Collins Summer 2020), Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Karin-
    Now you’re talking! Leadership isn’t about success after success day after day. If that’s a model of leadership, I have a few bridges to sell. The problem with leadership is that the risk-takers, those who are perceived as awkward, and those who don’t seem to fit in … are probably the norm. Mature companies and mature employees need to learn how to treasure these leaders who don’t quite fit. They are not peanut butter ‘n jelly. They are peanut butter and wasabi. But given the opportunity, they will work out. The key, in my opinion, is to grow members of the team in interpersonal skills – self-awareness, humility, empathy, listening skills, risk-taking, and what Carl Rogers calls Unconditional Positive Regard. If members of the team value these qualities, the wasabi-leader might just work out.

    • Peanut butter and wasabi, I can almost taste that image 😉 Thanks, once again for contributing a comment that could almost be a post in itself. So well said.

  2. Thank you for this. We should also consider how this extends beyond our companies – to contractors, peers in the industry, consultants, etc. How many times have we held fast to what we knew of them, only to realize they are now experts from who we missed a chance to learn. Additionally, so often we also need to forgive ourselves as well… and move on and out from under those dark shadows…and recognize what we can positively offer. Experiences help us all mature and make us who we are…. without our mistakes, we might not know what we know now.

  3. A very important message, Karin…all of us shudder a little when we think back to our first stab at leadership.

    And I love the excerpt from Dan’s post: memories do persecute!

    I have found that the best way to deal with them is by looking at those awkward moments truthfully, and then listing what I learned from that experience. And finally, ways in which I’ve avoided making the same mistake again. This last point is crucial—stupidity is continuing to make the same mistakes as we mature.

  4. Karin –

    Thank you for this. Sometimes growing takes a little more time that others. Sometimes I feel as though I am in constant growing pains myself. I need to take more time and recognize my own growth, and still feel as though I am moving forward. I don’t want to get too restful, but at the same time need to take time to recognize the growth that I have already had.



    • Shawn, thanks for being so honest. Every great leader feels these growing pains. The choice is whether we move towards or away. Be sure to celebrate your growth. Namaste.

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