Observing Staff Potential

The ability to assess talent in others requires personal interest and engagement.

Spotting latent talent in people involves the daily practice of intentional observation.  Leaders often become consumed with meetings, administrative tasks and completing performance reviews at the expense of engaging their people in real development.  It’s tempting to rationalize reasons for not being engaged in people development.  That’s largely because being busy is the easier path; however, it’s the path that yield’s the least in relation to future talent and ensuring that you have the right team down the road.

Leaders are in the people business.  The great ones understand that paying attention to who they have around them is job one.

Take stock of how much quality time you dedicate to thinking deeply about the people around you and how they’re doing.  Next, tell them what you’ve observed.  If they could do better, let them know.  If they’re knocking it out of the park, thank them and encourage them to keep it up.


Leaders Remove Process Barriers

You just boarded the plane with coffee in hand, stashed your bags overhead, and the pilot announces, “we have a minor maintenance item, then we’ll be on our way.”

Now, anyone who depends on the airlines for their daily commute knows that when it comes to aircraft mechanics, nothing is minor. The repair might be minor, but the process of getting mechanics to the aircraft, followed by the arduous task of completing FAA paper work, is no minor event.

This is when I stand up, grab my bags and exit the plane (I have found this only works if the aircraft is still at the gate). It’s a pre-made decision based on my experience, and it usually serves me well.

As much as possible, free your people from red tape that turns a minor task into a complex, over engineered, brain numbing process that smothers morale and productivity. Your clients will love you for it, too.


Being In Control…

…demands self-control

The meeting ran late, the taxi took twice the time estimated to arrive leaving 15 minutes to clear security and board my flight.  To my good fortune, there is no line and the security agent is waiting.  This was going to work and hope of making the flight was rising in my chest until the agent said, “you have to wait to be called, please step behind the line.”  As I walked back behind the line and waited, I could feel the hot fingers of anger tighten around my throat.  

In that moment, I heard the voice of my boss 35 years from the past instructing me on how to deal with a difficult client.  I remembered him distinctly saying, “kill’m with kindness.”  Kindness was the last emotion I could think of in that intense moment.  So, there I stood in raging calm waiting to be called.  I passed.  And, beyond all odds walked on the plane as the door closed on my heels.

When you get in a hurry everything slows down.  Patience becomes more expedient than impatience.  The agent could force me to wait, but only I could demand patience and composure of myself.  Leadership is about exercising self-control when you’d simply like to take control.  The real power is understanding the difference.