First Business

February 17, 2014

What Makes the Great Ones Great?

I love sports. Not only are they entertaining, but they also often provide examples that can be applied to life and especially to business. Right now the focus is on the Olympics, but a concept that is intriguing to me came from the recent NFL playoffs and some of the great quarterbacks involved of whom it was said “they make everyone around them better.” How does that relate to the business world? Everyone wants to be a great, but how do you make everyone around you better at work?

First, let’s look at the people that report to you. If you’ve read my blogs before you’ve heard me say that I believe a supervisor’s job is to help the people that work for them be successful. That means setting clear expectations, holding people accountable, providing a pat on the back or a kick in the pants as appropriate, encouraging growth and development, and helping people meet their career goals. You do this by establishing a relationship that’s safe for open, honest two way communication and listening to their ideas not only about their work but how they define success for themselves personally (career goals, work life balance priorities, etc.). You help make them better by taking obstacles out of their way (red tape, office politics, etc.) and providing a vision for what is possible for them in their careers. For sustained motivation, it’s critical to communicate the importance of their role in the organization’s success and how their work aligns with the organizational strategies. It’s also important for you to give them credit for work well done (remember to share the spotlight!).

Relative to peers, making those around you better means being a team player. You accomplish this by encouraging others when they might be down after losing a sale or having a set-back, and celebrating others’ successes. People sometimes have difficulty celebrating other’s successes because they feel threatened. A little healthy competition can be a good thing, particularly in a sales environment, but first and foremost, employees need to recognize they are on the same team. Ultimately the team’s success is most important ... or the team won’t be around for long. If team members are willing to share successful strategies, techniques, and efficiency tips with one another, the team’s productivity will increase. But this only happens if there is a strong team atmosphere in place. So while managers typically are focused on things like team building exercises, if you’re part of a team that doesn’t feel cohesive, be the one to get the group together for a beer or whatever it takes to create some personal bonding.

In terms of your boss, most people have probably heard that the best way to succeed is to make your boss look good. I think that’s true for a few reasons. First, if your boss gets promoted, someone moves up and that could be good for you. Second, making your boss look good makes your boss your advocate. Finally, if you help make your boss successful, your team is likely to succeed as well (assuming your boss is focused on the right things!). It’s more fun and more fruitful to be on a winning team.

That’s the common thread: winning and success. To be a great one, make it your priority to help your team win and help all your teammates succeed.


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