“In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product, & profits.
Unless you’ve got a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.”
I feel very privileged that GeneralLeadership.com asked me to make another contribution on leadership. I understand that my last blog, “Heroes” was well received by readers and I hope this article is equally successful as I feel it is very important for a leader to have the right team for any organization.
In my career as a General Officer and corporate executive, I have repeatedly been faced with the same conundrum: I know I need the right people for my organization but how do I go about making sure I choose the right ones? I’m more of a left-brained guy, so I made myself a formula to tackle this important challenge.
Getting the RIGHT people – Removing the WRONG ones
+ fixing “us”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking; “How do I know who is right and who is wrong?” As an author and consultant, I’ve found that asking questions and providing answers is a good way to communicate. As such, I’ve developed three questions that we will answer together to help you figure out who are the right people and who are the wrong people for your organization.
How do I get the right people ON my team?
Jim Collins’ classic statement in most of his books (Good to Great, etc.), “Get the right people on the bus” really resonates here. Getting the right people on our team involves establishing quality traits by which we measure potential team members, whether they be values or strengths. Personally, I have always placed a higher worth on the values of team members than individual skill sets. I feel that technical skills can be developed and enhanced through experience and training. But values are as inherent to us as our DNA. Integrity, moral courage and most others are with us for the duration.
Next, we identify certain technical traits that augment the existing team to improve the group’s overall capability. In my practice, I refer to these traits as knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and have successfully managed KSAs with tremendous success since the late 90s. Sometimes we are not able to find people that possess all of the knowledge, skills and abilities we want, but we can hire those that have enough of them (along with sought after values) and then invest in our team to help them develop the skills needed through training, development and inspiration.
A third important component I value personally in getting the right people on a team is objectivity. If you have the right person with a good value set and talents, but he or she is a “yes” person; then you will diminish the success of your team. It is important to allow your team members the liberty to state their opinions without feeling like they will be squashed like a bug or made to feel less of a team member for going against the grain. Most of the time a differing viewpoint will bring added value because it improves the quality of your judgment and decisions.
“…before we try to fix the rest of the team we should fix ourselves; this can go much further in the long run to improve results of the team.”
How do I get the wrong people out of my organization?
Once you figure out what type of person you want on your team it can sometimes become quite obvious who does not fit the mold. Once you have established your standards for employee traits/values and communicated your expectations for accountability etc., it will become apparent that some on your “team” are mismatches and will want to move on without prodding. Whenever there is change there are often non-conformers that will simply self-eliminate.
But you, the leader, have the responsibility to address those on your team that are not performing to your standards and are failing to yield positive results for your team. Often, I’ve found a new home for those that don’t fit on my team or simply told them that I do not feel they have a future in my organization. Most take the hint and will find another place to work. Sometimes you must do the tough job of following-through with disciplinary measures to make needed people changes but the bottom line is this; the final result needs to be you getting the wrong people off of your team.
Am I the right leader to attract the people I seek?
The final question you need to ask is the hardest of all because it is a difficult exercise in self-reflection. If you want people to have certain traits and values then you need to also be living those traits and values so you can attract that type of person to your team. For additional reading, I strongly recommend Barry Banther’s book, “A Leader’s Gift: How to Earn the Right to be Followed” where he offers some great insight on this subject. I also made a list of questions that can help you take a look inside to see if you are attracting the right people.
Do we espouse the right values that attract the right teammates to make us better?
Do we allow people to be their own person and grow/develop under our tutelage?
Do we provide people with roles, a reasonable set of expectations for those roles, and hold people accountable for their actions/decisions?
Do we promote growth of the organization as a whole, operate as a change agent, and allow change and improvement to take place?
Careful reflection on the above questions can identify room for improvement and help in the “fixing us” part of the formula for success. As leaders, before we try to fix the rest of the team we should fix ourselves; this can go much further in the long run to improve results of the team. If we fix ourselves, we make better leaders who people want to follow. If people want to follow us, we can demand more from them (because we demanded more from ourselves). Just remember, leading people is still a privilege. And the biggest change that yields the most for having the right people on your team is a new and improved YOU.
Where should you start?