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A Leader’s Green Thumb; How to Seed Weed, and Lead!

If you know me, you know how much I dislike lawn care and everything that comes with it! However, I do like gardening. My wife introduced it to me a few years ago and it’s something about becoming one with the soil to create something that proves to be natural and good for you in the future. As a leader… whether you’re in a professional position of leadership or a leader of your personal life, you will have to evolve your Green Thumb and get good at seeding and weeding… seeding your organization, team, and life with the right people and weeding out those that are not a fit. So, how to do it?

If you are starting from scratch and have the privilege of creating your own team it’s important to seed your vision with “The Inspired & Motivated”. It would be great to bring people aboard that have the high-level skillset you desire and the motivation, drive, personality, and people skills that exemplify the level of leadership you desire. These people do exist, but not in high numbers around you. When you come across this individual… be sure YOU, your vision, your leadership, and organization are a place worthy for them; creating an awesome win-win!

The mistake I see so many organizations make is seeking and hiring based on skillset alone. Of course, there are jobs where skillset is everything… that surgery you may be scheduled for or that bridge you cross every day. You’d prefer their skillset and care very little about their bedside manner. However, as important as their skillset is, even they will burn-out their people and eventually wear out their welcome within an organization. How many times have you seen professional athletes wear out their welcome and bounce from team to team? No one denies their skills and that keeps them employed, but not on the same team for very long… and the loneliness this person may eventually suffer and knock to their reputation will last longer than their playing days.

I hired based on personality, drive, personal leadership skills, their “Why”, and “Vacuum Eyes”; the way they looked at me when receiving information. It was as if I could see my words leaving my mouth and entering their soul and drive. I figured I could teach them what I wanted them to know. If they did great… great! If not, I’d match their superpower with a position and task. If that didn’t work, then it may be time to part ways. I realize this may sound naïve, is not practical in every profession, and your prospect has to have some knowledge base; but it’s been great to see a few companies begin to adopt this philosophy. For example, ABC Company has an ABC University within the company. They hire great people, their people work and attend ABC University, gain the knowledge and skills the company wants and needs them to have, the employee agrees to stay for a certain number of years, and BOOM… a great organization, with great people, unlimited opportunity, and the knowledge the company needs and wants them to have… a win-win!

When seeking great people and seeding, it’s important to be mindful of what type of person you’re looking for when you post an ad. If you lead seeking skillset only… that’s who’ll arrive in your inbox and office for interviews; a bunch of skillset types. If you lead seeking the type of personality you want, sharing your vision, expectations, standards, and skillset… that’s who’ll arrive in your inbox and office. Which would you, your team, and organization prefer?

It starts with you, as a leader, knowing your vision, the vision factors (the 3-5 things you know it takes to make the vision come true), the expectations you have for the mission, and the standards and rules. If you don’t know these, how are your people supposed to? If you don’t honor them, how can you consequence your people for not respecting them or following through?

Expectations are important. When a football player agrees to play for the University of Alabama, they expect to win, play for a National Title, and go to the NFL… and accepts all of the hard work that comes along with it. Why? The University of Alabama Football Program sets that expectation, they talk about it, it’s featured when you walk in their building… therefore, what type of players do you think they get? What culture are you establishing for your team, your organization, your vision… that’s the type of person you’ll attract and keep!

Weeding is a tougher task; as it suggests a few possibilities… you’ve seeded, but time has passed, your vision and mission have evolved, and now you need to weed. Or, you’ve inherited a team; as you are new to an organization, mergers, promotions, transfers, etc. Weeding out the “Bad Apples” is not a fun job, but it’s necessary for you to maintain and enhance your leadership and work/life harmony… and that of those on your team!

The first thing to understand is, “Bad Apples” doesn’t mean bad people. It simply means the person is not a fit for your vision, the organization, expectations, and standards. They may be perfect somewhere else and for someone else. Leaders are willing to free these individuals; creating a win-win for both sides.

When it’s time to weed, you must be willing to have the tough conversations. I’m honored to speak, train, and write about the process in detail in my Leader’s 7 speaking engagements, training, and book 7 Ways to Lead:

1.    Assume the person is doing something good and thank them for their effort

2.    Share the vision, expectations, and standards

3.    Inquisitively point out the problem and ask, “Can you help me understand what’s going on with ___________?”.

4.    Be quiet and listen! They may share something that knocks your socks off. It may be something within the organization, with a co-worker, or with YOU preventing them from operating at their best; causing unhappiness and distress. It may be something personal with their marriage, kids, or health. Care enough to be inquisitive before blaming and being punitive.

5.    Brainstorm ways to improve. Start by asking them what they think they can or need to do. Again, they may shock you! If it’s a good idea… let them do it and follow up. Perhaps you mesh ideas. Maybe they have no idea and you come up with one.

6.    Set a follow-up meeting to see how things are going. Knowing they will have a follow-up and not a typical annual review is beneficial to real progress.

7.    Send an email to keep things in black &white. Remember, part of leadership is… protection; and sometimes you need to protect yourself.

8.    KEEP YOUR FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENTS! It makes your people feel valued and enhances your leadership as they trust your word.

If this process produces gains… great! If not, it makes sense to move on and free this individual; beginning your weed and seed process. Remember, your “Inspired & Motivated” are watching. When they see “Bad Apples” remain “Bad Apples” they will eventually burn-out and leave; taking their talent elsewhere. Or worse, they burn-out, stay, and add to your “Bad Apple” Collection!

Enjoy your leadership and enhancing the leadership & work/life harmony of your people… seeding and weeding along the way!

“If you lead seeking only skill-set… that’s who’ll arrive. If you lead seeking the type of personality you want, sharing your vision, expectations, standards, and skill-set… that’s who’ll arrive. Which would you, your team, and organization prefer?”   

                                                                                                                                 – Andre Young

Written By: Andre Young

Ready for a better work culture, improved interactions between leaders and employees, and fewer headaches professionally and personally? Take the pain out of your company by enhancing Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Company, your Teams, and Employees with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements and Leadership Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual)! Download Andre Young’s Free App, YEN Push, allow notifications, and enjoy a professional and personal evolution with his Question of the Week, Thought of the Week, and More! Enjoy your EVOLUTION!!!

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