Update: Added link to founder of the Summit’s website.
According to a video posted by Barry Posner, Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, for the Leadership Summit, everyone is a contributor whether they know or not. Video available at: Leadership and Influence Summit, hosted by Daniel Decker. Keeping that in mind, I embarked on a brief thought experiment.
I spent a few days thinking about the one thing I brought to the table at work. I realized that it is neither my communication ability nor job motivation or interpersonal skills. It was Urgency. I call this the STOP – Supreme Trait Of Performance. On a Value/Performance chart, this trait is in the first quadrant.
For me, making a decision now or getting things done immediately outranks ever other task. My Urgency STOP has enabled me to become comfortable with ambiguity and to multi-task. If there was a top 10 list of people with a sense of Urgency, then I would numero uno.
This led me to consider the STOP for the individuals on my team. I wanted to identify the one Trait that each brought to the table. That same Trait powered their reason for professional existence as well performance. Some STOPs that emerged were Detection, Clarity and Repetition.
Detection: a detail oriented individual that covers every base imaginable while processing a transaction.
Clarity: a non-communicative person that works out solutions internally and understands the end goal well.
Repetition: a task oriented person that bangs away at a problem through sheer amount of work.
You may recognize these STOPs as either your own or as in someone you know at work. I realized that if you took everything else away from them, then they would still bring that Trait to work. It is part of their personality. I am quick to jump to conclusions or decisions, which may not always be a good idea. My Urgency STOP rules my head and heart, and if you took everything else I know or my other traits, then I will still continue to retain this one.
Communicating with people of different STOPs is complicated. When someone gives me a task, I am already executing on it in my mind and cannot wait to get to it. A Clarity STOP person may not know how to solve the problem right away, but they would be very clear about the end goal but just won’t tell you that.
As I continue building this construct, I would love to hear from your individual experience as you experiment with it.
If you’re a regular reader, you already know I don’t believe all people are intrinsically bad. Of course, some are born that way (dictators) and some become that way (tyrants) but most people, in my opinion, cannot be classified either this way or that way. Everyone has a bit of bad and good in them.
CNN has a great article written by Martha Beck of Oprah.com. Here is a snapshot of the good boss/bad boss qualities; I agree with all except one:
Bad-boss self-concept: As a leader, I’ll be a higher-up.
Good-boss self-concept: As a leader, I’ll have to go lower down.
Bad-boss target setting: Now that I’m the boss, I give orders to others.
Good-boss target setting: Now that I’m the boss, I bring order to what others do.
Bad-boss position on feedback: Now everyone must tell me when I’m right.
Good-boss position on feedback: Now everyone must tell me when I’m wrong.
Bad-boss protection strategy: As a boss, I’ll be protected from taking blame.
Good-boss protection strategy: As a boss, I’ll protect others by taking blame.
Bad-boss problem solving: Being the boss means I can avoid problems.
Good-boss problem solving: Being the boss means I must seek out problems.
I think people can get carried away with the point highlighted in red; even good people can get lynched from time to time for various reasons. I think moderation will be important because it depends on the situation when you hear a resounding NO. I also think that you MUST acknowledge someone (including your boss) when they are right. I’d do that more often than saying no.
Lao-tzu said it best, hundreds of years ago – “If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them”. The boss who starts wiggling his/her finger at the underlings is no longer objective. The article said it best – “Good-boss target setting: Now that I’m the boss, I bring order to what others do”. That is such a cool, zen-like idea because no matter what position you are in, you need to make someone else’s day go by smoothly. I don’t care if you’re in sales, operations or HR or in a workshop cutting wood. Pick any occupation.
Bringing order to others’ chaos is a beautiful and philosophical way of looking at what you do, even if you hate it.
Update: just noticed a great blog that also commented.