Do you ever wonder what is the difference between high performance and high maintenance people? Those who “get it” versus those who have to be guided at every step?
Sometimes, it’s not the other person – it can also be what we communicate. As coaches and leaders, we can begin to improve situations by changing our approach.
Imagine giving a member of your team a clear picture of the results you want rather than just a list of tasks to do. Imagine the difference it can make in creativity, innovation and motivation. Let me share a story to show you how it works.
Jake and I were on a walk. (Jake is my greyhound). We saw a guy mowing the lawn at the neighborhood elementary school. As he rode his lawnmower, he ran over drink cups – smashing them to smithereens. He rolled over all manner of paper that shredded and spread all over the lawn. I suspect he was told to “mow the grass.”
Now, imagine he and the boss had stepped out of the building and looked around and the boss said, “your job was to make the campus inviting.” Boss could have even offered measurable criteria like, “neat, short grass.” Now, what would the lawn guy see as his job? If he were invited to own the results – to view his responsibilities strategically – he might begin by picking up trash and change the path of the mower so that the grass clippings would blow back into the lawn, making great mulch rather than coating the sidewalks with clippings.
The difference between doing the job and getting the results is a perspective: being tactical vs. being strategic. Imagine you are in the final stages of a key game and you’ve told your team to focus on slam-dunks, home runs or kill shots – whatever a good tactic for your sport might be. What if there isn’t an opportunity for a good kill shot, but there are opportunities for other types of game-winning plays? By having everyone look for the one hero-producing event, they may miss opportunities to chip away at another team’s lead. Sometimes heroics are the order of the day – it’s just they are rarely the only option.
Holding a vision of the results you want rather than just the task at hand opens the possibility for creativity, empowerment – giving the team permission to make the best choices as circumstances rapidly change. It’s also a matter of trust. Can you let go command and control to let the team do what is required in the moment? It’s a learned skill.
Doing a task vs. working toward a result – it’s a huge shift for the team and the coach!