• Bill Greider

Mirror Mirror On the Wall

Leadership/coaching can sometimes be one frustrating, soul searching way to make a living! It is less about having a parking spot close to the front door and more about taking responsibility for just about everything. It's less about having a big office and more about developing others. People don't need to be supervised, that is non-value added work. Our customers won't pay extra because employees are well supervised. Our customers don't really care, that cost comes out of our end.

As many of you already know, one of my favorite quotes is "if you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't do." Like take responsibility. For pretty much everything! Ever notice how when the New England Patriots win, all Bill Belichick talks about is how great his coaches and players performed? And when they lose, all he talks about is what a lousy job he did preparing them. When they lose, he's front and center. When they win, he's no where to be found.

In reality, if we are managers, we only have one job! Develop people!! Our job isn't to mange meetings or develop our office or our computer. Like Belichick, our job is to recruit AND develop great players.

Quick story. I can remember many years ago when we needed to hire a supervisor. We paid plenty of money to place ads in a newspaper, enlist the help of a headhunter, etc. We screened resumes and applications, worked through interviews, came up with a few finalists. Interviewed again, checked references and hired.....George (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). George came to work, we introduced him to everyone, put him in the spotlight and rejoiced in the fact that we had landed.... George! We were so happy and so was he!!

Fast forward three years and I'm in a management meeting, and the subject comes up...."what are we gonna do about George?" The discussion was that we should go to his office on Friday afternoon, tell him the bad news, escort him out the front door with a box of his family pictures, etc. change the locks on the front door and let everyone else know what we did come Monday morning. As I'm listening to this discussion, a really stinky thought popped into my head. One of the 4 tenets of the Toyota Production System was screaming at me...."continuously develop your people and partners." As an organization, we did SOME JOB of developing George, didn't we?!?! We developed him from shiny, excited, optimistic and energized to disgruntled, tired, "I just work here", "is it Friday yet? George made one mistake after another and maybe one mistake over his limit. We developed him in reverse.

Which brings up my other favorite quote..."if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught." This situation wasn't George's fault, it was mine!!! Did I do everything I could possibly do (George didn't "report" to me) to work with him, help him?

When Toyota says "continuously develop your people and partners" they mean continuously, not only when they screw up! We only had 70 of us in the entire company, how could I let this happen?

Fortunately for all of us, I convinced everyone to call off the dogs and I (lead by example) started doing more of what we were getting paid to do, develop leaders, including George!

I believe great leaders and coaches are really, really good at looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for....just about everything!

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