Friday, November 25, 2011

Colin Powell's Leadership Lessons - 8

Organizations don't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.

Jim Collins talks about "getting the right people on the bus." You need the right people around you if you are going to succeed. The phrase "people are our most valuable asset" has become cliche, however it is true, when they are treated properly. Procedures do not execute themselves, and even if a computer program can do the job, at some point it needs to be programmed, and the right people need to give it the information.

So, how do you make sure your people are the best. The first is to hire the right people, and to move or fire the people who are not the best. After you have the right people "on the bus" then you can find the proper seat for them. Work with their strengths, and they will appreciate you for it.

Beyond that, you need to show your team you care. In a previous blog I mentioned taking a different team member out to lunch each week. That way you can learn about him/her. Once you do, make sure to "remember" it any way you can. If you learn about a birthday, send him/her a card when it arrives. If he/she is about to go on vacation, ask them how it went. And when he or she does something worth praising, you praise them in public for it. Your team will know that you appreciate them.

Reward them for initiative and innovation, so that you can unleash them (another blog entry). Absorb the blame from higher, but distribute the praise. Be aware that your best will be tempted to stray, so never count on someone as the sole person for that position. The military talks about training up and down, so everyone knows the mission. If you don't cross-train, when one of your best is tempted away, your team can fall apart.

Finally, and this might be the hardest part, pay them what they are worth, not what you can get away with. Honor your agreements with them and don't change the rules without advising them about why the change is necessary. People will stick through a lot of things, but at some point money does matter, and if the market rate is higher than the pay you are offering, how can you be surprised that people leave or won't join the team in the first place.

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