I was reading a post in one of my favorite linked in groups (Leadership Westchester) and one of our members posed an interesting question: What's the one thing you would tell a new leader? My suggestion was: Be yourself - Be utterly and solely yourself. I'm not sharing this because I think it's such an original piece of wisdom or genius. It did; however, get me thinking about the importance of being true to your own attributes, strengths and core values.
Truth be told, the above has been well covered. Bright and well-spoken people such as Tom Rath have written about the value of playing to your strengths - and even made a complete science of it - with books like Strengthsfinder. Similarly, in Quiet, a wonderful book by Susan Cain, she shares the value of everyone NOT being an extrovert though this personality type tends to be more celebrated than the opposite. She goes on to reflect that being an extrovert isn't bad. It's just that there is incredible value in the many ways we interact; quiet and loud, extrovert and introvert, leader and follower, team player and shining star - the list goes on.
I thoroughly agree. Multiple skill sets and personality types make life much more interesting and make a team or organization thrive and hum. How much healthier and successful would organizations (for profits and nonprofits alike) be if they adapted some or all of the following approaches to workforce development?
There is no best -there's only value and contribution: Organizations tend to use fairly standardized and noncreative measuring sticks when handing out the accolades. As some examples, what company doesn't hand out a trophy for highest revenue, top productivity and the like? But what about the contribution of the folks who don't want to be on the front lines and are happiest playing support roles? Your top salesperson won't stay that way forever if your customer service people can't back up the sale and keep customers coming back. All contributions are valuable and should be treated that way.
Let people shine how they shine: I value stretching myself and my abilities as much as the next person. But let people grow from where they are, be who they are and develop their most valued skill sets. That's how they'll make the maximum contribution. Remember, everyone has a role to play and some play well on teams and some work better alone. Can you imagine someone interviewing and saying "I'm not a team player. I work better on my own. I care about the team. I want the team to work and succeed. I just work a bit better on my own." Wow! How amazing and valuable that kind of honesty be. Not to mention that depending on the work and role, it might be exactly what's needed.Leadership isn't for everyone: Yes, I'm putting it out there.
Leadership isn't for everyone and may not be the proper promotion and best way to reward certain A Players on your team. For example, your top "Lone Wolf" salesperson that refuses to put a cover page on his all TP reports before faxing them and following any of the prescribed best practices probably isn't your best candidate for Sales Manager, despite his or her production levels. Promote them? Sure - but with a different sort of carrot i.e. bigger territory, better commission rate.I'd love and welcome any feedback on these thoughts. Hope to hear from you
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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