Put me in coach, I'm ready to play

Does your leader equip and empower your team?

John Fogarty’s 1985 hit “Center Field” is about an enthusiastic, confidant young player who has dreams and aspirations to play like his heroes Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, and Joe Di Maggio.  If only he could have the opportunity of proving himself in a real game.  The coach of course is the as to whether that player will be begin implementing his dream, or simply sit on the sidelines.

 This song comes to mind as I watch youth baseball games and watch many but not all coaches helping kids by equipping, encouraging, and then giving them opportunity to make a difference. 

 Leaders of organizations face many of the same decisions that coaches do.  While many choose to equip, add value, and release the power of that individual on the team (and the opponent), others choose to focus on maintaining and controlling the status quo.  Often these leaders feel that it is much safer to continue to empower the individuals that they have been using all along rather than take a chance on someone new with less experience.  After all, the known is less threatening than the unknown.  This leader is playing it safe – or is he?

 Unfortunately this myopic view of a team effort is more about winning by maintaining control and power than it is about building the team by adding value to the individuals that make it up.  Adding value increases productivity, flexibility, sustainability, and long-term gain. It increases the motivation of the entire team.  Interestingly, it also increases the influence and credibility of the leader and the engagement and loyalty of the team member.

 Winning is certainly very important in baseball and the world of business.  Productivity of team members and organizational profitability are critical.  It seems to me that the leader that is able to maximize the ability and motivation of all of his human resources is destined to be the real winner.

 Do you equip and empower or do you devalue?

What question doesn't deserve an answer?


Did you ever ask a leader an important question and not receive an answer?  

Have you ever had the experience of asking someone a question on an email or text that never receives a response or an answer?

I have experienced this more than I care to admit.  What particularly troubles me is that it often happens when I pose work related questions to people in various leadership roles.

 So what is it that is upsetting about his phenomenon?

John Maxwell defines leadership as influence.  Influence is enhanced by building relationships of respect.  This implies that both individuals recognize the inherent value of the other person, even when there is disagreement and even dislike.  Because someone doesn't think like me is no reason to disrespect them by devaluing who they are as a person.

 Not responding to someone communicates disrespect.  It says, "You are not worth my time and effort to respond to you".  No one deserves this type of devaluation. Every question deserves an answer.

 I was once in negotiation with a highly respected law firm.  I posed an offer to the attorney representing that firm in question form. I received no answer.  A couple of weeks later I asked why I received no answer.  The attorney responded, "No answer was an in effect an answer".   I lost all respect for this attorney and the law firm he represented.

Leaders constantly need to work on influence building to build credibility and engagement.  Leadership is a process not a position.  Treating others with the same amount of respect that we would want to be treated with is fundamental.