Category Archives: Talent
In virtually every organization there are people who seem to never learn or grow. Oftentimes we classify them as disengaged, subversive, or troublemakers, and look to dismiss them.
I have observed repeatedly a fair number of people that have slow learning curves which takes them a while to learn the fundamentals of their job. Yet I have been amazed at how many have blossomed over a longer period of time than others into solid team members and even became strong leaders in their own right.
What was the cause for the transformation?
Many people grow in proportion like a bamboo tree.
When a bamboo tree is planted and watered it doesn’t sprout for the first year, or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. It takes five full years for the typical bamboo plant to finally break ground.
Once it does, it is actually one of the fastest growing plants in the world, sometimes growing at a rate of 35 inches in a day.
What is the cause for this tremendous growth?
In the course of the four-year period of seeming nothingness, the tree is growing a complex underground network of roots. These roots are so vast and extensive, that if you were to uproot a grown tree you would find it difficult to do so because of the root system.
It’s roots store all that water and nutrients, and create a myriad of conduits to support the rapid growth of the tree when it’s time has come.
And when the tree has come to full maturity, it possesses a denser strength than brick or concrete and a higher tensile strength than steel.
Sit back and think of the people in your organization that don’t seem to be growing. Are they working hard? Listening? Are they staying loyal, staying put with your company?
These people might actually be growing under the surface in ways you may not notice. These could be future impact players who, with the right combination of water and nutrients – training, encouragement, and entrusted responsibility – could shoot up from their place and make their presence known.
Just because we don’t see anything happening on the outside – stellar performance, heads nodding in agreement, skills being mastered in our timeframe – does not mean your people are not learning and growing. They may very well be developing some strong roots underneath.
Every leader is responsible for giving their people the necessary ingredients for growth and development. If you withhold any ingredient, you stunt their growth. When you liberally apply training, vision, knowledge, trust, and other internal and external resources, you may see quick growth. But if you don’t see anything quickly, be patient and wait. They are growing, you just may not actually see it.
Invest your time into everybody. Don’t be prejudiced by the outward displays of growth and performance. You just might discover some people ripe for rapid growth.
People that will be strong as steel – or a bamboo tree – in their value and loyalty to your organization.
If you ask the average person, they may say the focus of leadership to be:
- Attain results
- Meet goals
- Share vision
- Service customers
- Get people to perform
- Create culture
- Manage daily operations
Leadership is a balance of all the above, but one essential piece that most leaders fall short on is this:
Development of your people in their skills to the highest level they want to attain.
This can manifest in the following ways:
- Helping them gain mastery of core job functions
- Developing skills in new areas
- Strengthen those areas they are already strong in
- Building desire to grow through increased engagement
- Casting vision of the organization to help them see what they can accomplish
- Fostering a desire to lead in varying capacities
- Placing them in situations they can grow and stretch
- Increasing their knowledge by giving access to learning resources of all types
Developing your people is key to sustainable growth of the organization. A good culture cannot grow and refresh if it’s people do not grow. A great strategy can be executed but if your people don’t learn something new the next strategy may not go as well.
At the core of every action, goal, and metric attained in any company is the need to having your people learn as much as they can. This only strengthens the foundation of your organization and builds more connected, committed, and long-term engagement in your workforce.
Purpose daily to develop your people. That is true leadership.
Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Miller. Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do (2007). More recently, he released Chess Not Checkers (2015), and Leaders Made Here (2017). His latest is Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (February 2018). Today, over 1 million copies of Mark’s books are in print in more than two dozen languages.
What’s the hardest thing a leader has to do? Honestly, I’m not sure.
For me, it varies with the circumstances of the day. However, if I pull up and stop fighting fires and escape the entanglements of growing bureaucracy, I think I might vote for Ensuring Alignment.
Having seen our organization grow from less than two dozen staff to almost 2,000, I can say the task of keeping everyone aligned is mind-boggling. However, regardless of the difficulty factor, I believe Ensuring Alignment is one of the leader’s highest priorities – and one with incalculable returns.
For these reasons, I was not surprised when we began sorting through all we learned from our Top Talent research project about their expectations for their leaders, and landed on this idea of Ensuring Alignment as a leadership best practice. No organization drifts toward a big vision – you drift out to sea or over a waterfall, but you don’t drift to greatness.
Here’s an excerpt from the Talent Magnet Field Guide on this topic…
“When organizations work together, they set themselves apart. Clearly, alignment accelerates impact. Leaders who want to position their organizations to accomplish a Bigger Vision must Ensure Alignment; only then can they harness the collective energy of those they lead. Without alignment, energy, productivity, and impact will suffer.
Picture a tug of war. If leaders can get everyone in the organization on the same side of the rope pulling together toward the vision, their competition is in trouble. When everyone is in sync, not only is the existing workforce energized, but potential talent will be drawn to the team.
Alignment permeates every aspect of a high-performance culture. Leaders know they must model the way and continually work to train team members to embrace the vision, mission, values, systems, and strategy if they hope to execute at a high level. If they succeed, everyone wins. Additionally, they position themselves to be an employer of choice for Top Talent.”
As a leader, you must choose where to invest your time. You can thrash away neck deep in the weeds of busyness or you can make a strategic decision to build an aligned culture. Choose to Ensure Alignment and you will be a step closer to becoming a place so attractive, Top Talent will be standing in line to work for your organization.
About Mark Miller
Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, Mark has steadily increased his value at Chick-fil-A and has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction.
Today, he serves as the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $9 billion. The company now has more than 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
When not working to sell more chicken, Mark is actively encouraging and equipping leaders around the world. He has taught at numerous international organizations over the years on topics including leadership, creativity, team building, and more.