Recently, a new acquaintance and I were discussing what we have learned in leading people over the years. During that discussion, an example came rushing back to my mind of how, in my arrogance and ignorance, I almost damaged a man’s career and from that experience came two valuable lessons.
Jim Collin’s famously talked about getting the right person on the bus AND getting them in the right seat on the bus. My experience boiled down to me almost removing someone who was the right person on the bus, I had just placed him in the wrong seat.
It began when this gentleman’s manager came to me complaining about this man’s performance as a supervisor of a large department. Time after time, the manager was coming into my office complaining about the supervisor to the point that some kind of action had to be taken and soon. With all the confidence of a leader in their late 20’s, I made the decision that the man had to be removed from our part of the organization – a move that would have seriously damaged the man’s career in our greater organization.
Fortunately, there was an older, more experienced, and wiser man on my staff that was a technical advisor to me. He came to me and gently suggested that I at least give this supervisor a chance at an open individual contributor’s position in another one of our departments. Fortunately, I listened, transferred the former supervisor, and he became a star in his new position greatly elevating the performance of the overall organization.
Just by simply changing the man’s “seat”, he went from a problem to a star. How often does that happen?
The first lesson that I learned was the importance of knowing the people I lead well enough to place them into positions that best match how they are wired so that they thrive and succeed. No mater how good the person, if they are in the wrong position, it will eventually not work out well.
The second lesson I learned was to treasure and listen to those on my team that are smarter, more experienced, and wiser than me. Please don’t fear or be intimated by those people that you lead that are smarter and wiser than yourself. Treasure them and take good care of them!
Learn your team – place them correctly – take care of them!