My kids are pretty smart.
Totally bragging a little. But it’s true. 🙂
Anyway, report cards came home a couple of weeks ago and they both did really well – better than I ever did at their age.
So, I heaped on the generalized praise for the A’s and then there was some discussion about ways they might improve the couple of classes that fell a little short.
Yawn. Pretty standard parenting and coaching right?
Standard for sure – and such a waste. I’m realizing it more every day and the implications are huge.
As leaders (parents, sales managers or otherwise…) we’re often so busy nit-picking or trying to find ways to improve areas of perceived underperformance that we miss the chance to lead someone to EXCELLENCE.
I mean, that’s really the goal, isn’t it?
It should be.
And think about it. Excellence never comes from driving a specific skill from below average to mediocre. It never emerges from a place where there isn’t any love or passion.
It just doesn’t.
Yet we spend so much of our coaching time camped out in that space. We end up focused on what our teams aren’t good at – at the expense of what they are good at.
Excellence happens when you make a decision to develop the existing skills, abilities and passions that are at the core of what makes someone unique. When you invest your precious time and energy into something they’re already good at and help them find ways to be great.
Maybe even fan the flames of greatness to become the best.
Author Marcus Buckingham has written extensively in this area and a quote from his book First, Break All The Rules resonates with me:
“You cannot learn very much about excellence from studying failure.” – Marcus Buckingham
To go back to the report card analogy: I wasted a chance to talk with my kids about why they’re doing so well in math and what bigger, better and cooler things they can accomplish as a result. Instead, I focused on the “failure.”
OK…YES, there are going to be critical skill areas that we need to “coach up” in order to help folks reach a certain level of competency. No doubt about it.
But shouldn’t we be spending AT LEAST the same amount of time uncovering those things that members of our teams are already really good at and help them become EXCELLENT? Awesome, even?
I’ve whiffed on this more times than I care to admit.
Questions To Ask
How about you?
Here are a few things to think about in closing. Specifically, consider the last few coaching reports or performance reviews you’ve written:
- WHY: Simon Sinek is right…start with why! Are you picking skills to develop and coach on for the right reasons? Did you choose them as a means to drive toward excellence or out of convenience?
- BALANCE: Does your coaching plan at least have a mixed focus on those skills which need genuine development along with those which are already strong and can be driven higher?
- PASSION: Do you know what your reps are really passionate about? Are you focusing any of your coaching efforts purposefully in that area? Can you start today?
The opportunities are all around us as leaders. Focus more on developing strengths and stop wasting opportunities to coach your reps to excellence.
I’d love to hear from you on this topic!
Do you agree? What does your experience suggest?
Until next time,