to me in a state of exhaustion. After
years of struggling with his eight-person executive team, he felt that he was
getting nowhere. No surprise that the
team of 300 below his eight direct reports were not as productive as they could
won't step up, get creative and do their jobs to the best of their ability." Nathan wanted fast 'tools' to change them, or
guidance with the decision to "fire the whole bunch and start over with new
blood and fresh ideas."
We went to
work. My goal was to see the bigger
picture, not just the immediate frustration.
- Who is Nathan as a leader?
- What talents does each member of
his team already possess?
- What will strengthen both
Nathan as a leader and his team, both individually and collectively?
learned the depth of Nathan's frustration.
It seeped into his entire life experience, both inside and out. This frustration was pulling him
into a slow, downward spiral which unwittingly leads to very small
As he was
thinking small, his team followed suit. (Leaders
too easily forget that their team watches and emulates them moment-by-moment
throughout the day. If a leader is upbeat and forward thinking, so is the team.
If a leader is frustrated and small thinking, so is the team.)
thinking of each person on the team individually, he looked at them as one big
disappointment, and his attitude communicated this loudly.
It was a
stretch for Nathan to separate out each direct report and to list their talents.
He was instead eager to look at their failures - only how disappointing they
were. This was the small thinking that
was pulling his team down.
separated each member of his team out and looked at their strengths, talents,
who they are at the core, and why he originally hired them, things began to
turn around. He could see more clearly
what each individual needed in order to grow.
surprised his team members when he asked each to come into his office
individually. Cautiously, they agreed,
not knowing if it was to be fired.
genuinely acknowledged their talents and then sought their expertise:
- "What do you like about your
- "What's the next level for
- "What can you do to step up to
the next level?"
- "What can I do to support you
- "What vision do you have for
- "How can you move us closer to
relieved team was re-energized and on fire.
They were once again a team, not eight struggling individuals with no
vision for the future.
If you want
your people (including spouses, partners, friends, children) to become better
at what they do:
- First look at who you are as a
leader (spouse, partner, friend or parent). How can you improve who you are?
- Next, look at each individual
and recognize their strengths and talents.
It's a win/win way to elevate yourself and those around you.