Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you; cooking isn’t my thing! I don’t enjoy the ratio of time it takes to prepare and clean; compared to the time it takes to eat. However, I was lucky to marry my wife… she loves to cook and bake and is the best at both! Although I dislike cooking, I do know the ingredients to becoming and helping others become great leaders. Whether professionally, athletically, or personally… it’s always the same four ingredients: Talent, Work Ethic, Coaching, and Opportunity. If you’re interested in furthering your journey as a leader and building other leaders, keep reading!
Let’s face it, some people’s ambition outweigh their talent. Have you ever met someone, worked with someone, or was that someone that had all the drive, but struggled to have the talent to succeed at their desired level? I was that person as an athlete… my ambition was high and it took me to play college football and make an Arena Football team, but not to the NFL. Have you ever met, worked with, or been the person whose talent outweighed their ambition… they had all the talent in the world, but a low or inconsistent effort level? It’s truly a sad thing to see; as everyone, but them, knows their effort level is the problem!
The truth is, some people are born with an innate ability and personality to achieve in the area they desire and some have to work ten times harder for the same opportunity. The good thing is… talent can be enhanced and it’s not the only ingredient of success and leadership!
Even those with a natural talent for the path they desire must choose to refine it; here are some tips:
- Study your craft! Read books, articles, YouTube Videos, anything you can get your hands on to learn more, be more, and add to your arsenal
- What is your Superpower? Know what you bring to the table regarding your talent and desired path!
- Ask the Get Great Question! Most people will focus on enhancing what they’re already good at. However, if it’s not impacting your organization, boss, team, or coach the way they want and need… you are simply busy being busy. Leaders understand the benefit of marrying what they want to get better at with what is needed from them most at the moment
Leaders understand without work ethic, talent is frustrating and sometimes useless. A talented lazy person can be as frustrating to have on your team as a motivated untalented person. Work-Ethic means you’re willing to consistently set aside time to evolve your skills. Perhaps it’s keeping up to date with your profession as it evolves, staying up to date with how your clients prefer your product, reading 15 mins every evening, taking classes, attending trainings, or working on a new move if you’re an athlete. Whatever it is… leaders don’t succumb to the “Hamster Wheel” or the day-to-day grind of simply getting stuff done. They make consistent time to grow and evolve!
We can only get so good alone and coaching will take you and your people to the next level. I once had lunch with a gentleman and was enlightened by how simple he explained coaching. He asked me to raise my hand… I did. Then he said, “raise it higher”… and I did! We may be doing all we think we can do until we are asked to do a bit more, learn something new, or are shown a new perspective our mindset would have never thought of. If you are looking to enhance your leadership or your success… I highly recommend a coach or mentor; allowing you to enhance your skills, perspective, and impact.
If you’re in a professional position of leadership, your job is to be a mentor and coach! Remember, managers crack the whip from behind and simply tell others what to do… taking care of the busy and day-to-day. Leaders build other leaders by coaching, explaining the bigger picture, enhancing skill-sets, complimenting, having the tough conversations with constructive insight, and motivating your people in their language toward success!
My youngest son plays quarterback and his dream is to play at a Division I University then the NFL. He has the talent, has the work-ethic… on off-days of football, he practices, and then asks to practice again with me afterward. Due to this, it’s now my job to get him the proper coaching to take him to the next level… starting off small with YouTube Videos to mimic, to official Quarterback Coaching Sessions, traveling to attend camps, making connections, and more! The people in your organization and on your team; they have the talent, they have the work ethic… What are you doing, professionally, to best coach them? It helps to know what they want to get out of working with you and for you, what is their definition of professional success? What help would they like most from you right now?
If what they need and want is reasonable, doable, and fair for the organization and you… do it a bit outside of your comfort zone; enhancing your leadership, but not your bitterness and frustration level! If what they need and want is outside your boundaries, it makes sense to be transparent and clear about it and provide possible alternatives while maintaining high expectations and standards toward the mission and job at hand!
The fourth ingredient… Opportunity. When you and your people have honed their talent, demonstrated consistent work ethic, and have benefited from coaching; opportunities will arise! Perhaps in the form of praise, raises, promotions, etc. It’s helpful to know two things:
- Have a vision for your success; marrying what you want to improve with what others need most from you right now.
- When you raise your value, you raise your standard of opportunity
If you’re in a professional position of leadership, the ingredient of opportunity can be sweet and sometimes bittersweet. As you’ve recruited great talent, honed their talent, they’ve exhibited work ethic, and you’ve provided top-level coaching… your people will desire opportunity. They may want that promotion, raise, autonomy to make decisions on their own, and more… and why wouldn’t they; it’s the next logical step!
The truth is, your organization or team has improved because your people have improved, but there are only so many spots for promotions and there is only so much money for raises. There are not enough seats for this game and not everyone that has started with you will end with you. This sounds awful… and it is sad, however a great problem to have. How do you make it a win-win?
I’d like to say it’s a win-win-win! A win that your people are becoming their definition of success, better leaders, and your organization is winning as certain individuals are provided opportunities to advance… A Win! Some will be unable to advance the way they’d like and will choose to stay within an awesome organization… although disappointed, they understand not everyone can move up or win all at the same time… A Win! Other great people will decide to leave and seek opportunities elsewhere. It sounds bad, however it’s great… as your organization becomes a beacon and Gold-Star to have on a resume. Your organization is now the Gold-Standard representing a place that puts out great people, a place people want to work; if not for its reputation but for the experience it will provide. Losing great people isn’t the worse thing… as long as you’re losing them for the right reasons and have a reputation and system in place to attract more… A Win!
Lastly, and very important to note… organizations and teams have traditionally looked at the ingredients I’ve shared as something an employee has to earn. If the employee exhibits talent and work ethic; the organization will then reward with coaching and opportunity. I’m suggesting a shift to positively impact the future, your organization, your people, and your leadership… Provide all of your people, regardless of their current talent level and work ethic with tremendous coaching, make opportunities clear and obtainable, and watch more (not all) of your people’s talent rise and work ethic increase.
Many organizations will invest in their C-Suite, Middle Management, and Emerging Leaders; and rightfully so. However, many employees are being neglected and missing out on valuable Leadership Trainings and Work/Life Harmony skills that when learned early can change their lives and your organization moving forward! Front-Line employees may not need all of the training C-Suite, managers, and emerging stars get; but since you will most likely promote from within, it makes sense they get some of it… Be Mindful!
“When you raise your value, you raise your standard of opportunity” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
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