Archives For Staff Development

Worlds Best Employee MugWhen I was a young leader I embraced a faulty leadership paradigm. I believed that I should be able to do the jobs of my direct reports. I insecurely thought “If one of my leaders quit, I should be able to step in and do their job.”

After a few years I came to realize how limiting such a paradigm was. If I can do the job of each direct report, then I have leaders just as limited as myself working for me.

I eventually decided to start hiring people who were better at their job than me. I learned it is better to think “God help me if they ever quit.” rather than “I’ll be fine if they go.”

That change in my hiring paradigm dramatically improved the quality of leaders I attracted. So much so that I eventually employed leaders who built a better organization than I ever could on my own. Which soon led to me to think, “Would my staff hire me?”

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Top of BottleI love the vocabulary Les McKeown uses to describe the roles of people in an organization: Visionary, Operator and Processor.

In short…

  • (V) Visionaries think big, generate ideas and become irritated by details.
  • (O) Operators are action oriented and don’t like to be micro-managed.
  • (P) Processors devise systems and procedures that enable an organization to deliver consistent results.

Most often startups begin with the dreams of a visionary and the “make it happen” skills of an operator. Once the company begins to succeed a processor is brought on board to systematize operations.

Of the three, operators bring a high functional value to organizations. These are the implementors, the “git-r-done” kind of people who bring about the dreams of visionaries.

I’ve been privileged to work with a few gifted operators during my leadership of nonprofits. People who lived to execute a program, or launch an initiative or pull-off a fundraising campaign.

I’ve also been guilty of letting operators take on more than they can do. I have mentioned incomplete projects in staff meetings and allowed the operators to say, “I’ll take care of it.” I have had operators meet with me about their problems and by the end of the meeting they’ve committed to find solutions to my problems.

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