Learn from a Legend

I often suggest to clients that they “collect” attributes of leaders who inspire them. Over time they create a composite leader profile, one which incorporates the best aspects of who they aspire to be.

I added to my own collection as I read and listened to the stories about Coach Pat Summitt, who died earlier this week. She began coaching when she was 22 years old and had an illustrious career as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols. She never had a losing season and had 1,098 wins, the most of any NCAA Division I basketball coach (man or woman) in history.

She was an intense person and commented that she always felt that intensity could bring out the best in anyone. Her toughness, competitiveness, and intention to win were consistently conveyed to her players.

Time to Move On?

A client recently asked me how to motivate an employee whose performance is lackluster. I made the distinction between motivation and inspiration: we can inspire the people who work with us, but motivation needs to come from within.

He was especially frustrated because he hasn’t been able to inspire this employee to perform at a higher level. He suggested that the employee’s work was about a B- level and he wanted to raise the quality.

People work for many different reasons, and some do the bare minimum because they see it as just a job. This is frustrating, especially for a proactive manager who wants to get the best from his or her staff. If someone works for the security of a paycheck and not much more, it’s difficult to get more out of them.

The Hover Factor

Last week I wrote about developing new managers, as the skills that brought them this far in their careers are not likely to be the same ones they’ll need as they enter the managerial realm.

That’s one part of the equation. You also want to launch them.

What do I mean by that? Give them space to try on the new job for size and see what it’s like. Provide the environment for some small wins to give them confidence as they move forward. Allow them the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again with their new insights.

Let them do their jobs without hovering around them. I’ve seen many situations where someone is promoted and a senior leader preempts everything she does, every decision he makes, and every attempt to establish him or herself in the new role.

Simply put, this doesn’t work.

Cultivating New Managers

It’s a big deal when you grant managerial responsibilities to one of your key employees. You’re entrusting this person to be a steward of people, processes, and profits. From the employee’s perspective, it can be an important rite of passage.

Unfortunately, executives often tend to promote their best people into managerial roles without consideration for whether they actually possess managerial talent. If you promote someone without evaluating whether he is actually primed to be a good manager, it can be a set up for failure.

The best way to evaluate these skills is to use an objective assessment process. The results will reflect their strengths and weaknesses. But there’s another piece to this: you need to identify the specific managerial competencies that are aligned with the actual job. Your employee may have some great skills, but if her strengths don’t match those that the job requires, her success will be hampered.

Are You Settling for Less?

We all compromise from time to time. The problem with compromise, though, is that someone gains a little and someone loses a little, so often it’s not a win-win scenario.

But what about compromising with yourself? The same thing can happen. Of course, there are times when you may need to do so, but when it morphs into a longer-term proposition, it can turn into the “settle for” syndrome.

When you settle, you give up something. If it happens repeatedly or when it lingers, you may even forget what you gave up.

Settling can create a slow seepage of spirit, which can be demoralizing. Your energy and enthusiasm can drop perceptibly, and if unchecked, this can be the beginning of a downward spiral.