Are You a Coach or a Tyrant?

coach_clapping_hr

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead others and how this gets measured in the interview process.

Two recent things have caused me to really ponder this issue about leading/managing/coaching a group of people.

First, I am high school girls basketball coach. In my first 5-6 years of coaching at the high school level I obtained mediocre results. The last couple of years, I’ve obtained extraordinary results. The quality of the kids coming into our program is no different in the last few years that it was 5-6 years ago.

So, if player quality is essentially the same, what’s the factor that accounts for the performance difference. I believe it’s my understanding of how to coach a high performing team. How do I extract a level of results from a team or group that exceeds their individual capability – the SUM is greater than the individual parts? It took me 5-6 years to get to that place.

Layered on top of those epiphanies of how to lead high performing teams comes a burning desire to “sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey called it when he wrote his book on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am a life-long passionate learner. I can’t go to enough workshops, seminars, conferences about leading and coaching. I can’t read enough books, blogs, and magazine articles about leadership.

My current leadership focus is on teaching mental toughness. I just finished the book Jay Bilas, the ESPN commentator, wrote on the same subject. I am continually watching, observing, and documenting what other coaches and leaders do. I reading everything I can on resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and challenges, and handle criticism and negativity. I want to MASTER the process of teaching my team mental toughness. I’ve actually put a plan together of how I’m going to teach mental toughness to me team this coming season.

Completely different perspective: My son is taking an AP World History class in high school. We’ve been having lots of discussions about leadership styles since reading about all the failures of dictators and autocratic rulers. Suddenly, it set me to thinking about all the CEOs and “C” level executives I’ve worked with over the past 30 years. What’s their dominant style: are they passive, dictatorial, or coaches of outstanding teams?

Take these two divergent areas of thought, and I’m re-thinking: how do we measure great leaders of teams in the interview process? What do the very best leaders DO that the average and mediocre leaders DON’T do? How can translate that understanding into specific interview questions that yield strong, quantifiable, rich, detailed, and specific examples?

I’ll be sharing some of these personal observations –  from the basketball court to the executive suite – over the course of the next few months.

Here’s what I would like to hear from the readers of our blog:

When was the last time you became deeply introspective about your style of leadership?

How much time do you spend “sharpening the saw” for your own capability and impact? What grade would you give yourself in the leadership department?

What’s the ONE thing you could be better at as a leader – more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Your capability to hire and retain a great team is directly correlated to your capability as a leader. Average leadership capability yields an average team.

Let’s work together in the framework of this blog to wrap our arms around the issue of measuring “real leadership” in the interview process.

Barry Deutsch

In Your Last Interview – Did You Measure Initiative?

Employees With Initiative Hit the Bulls Eye All the Time

Employees with initiative hit the bulls eye all the time. Frequently, they exceed your targets and expectations. Is Initiative one of the major areas you focus on in an attempt to hire top talent – great employees – outstanding performers?

We’ve discovered that INITIATIVE is a primary element of success.

Top talent has extreme levels of initiative:

They anticipate what needs to be done

They go above and beyond the call the duty

They are proactive

They are step ahead of their peer group

They don’t wait to be told what to do

 

Who do you have on your team that demonstrates initiative? What if you could get another one or two? Measuring initiative is actually quite easy.

Initiative is a life-long pattern of behavior. You don’t wake up at 25, 32, or 47 and suddenly declare that you’re going to be proactive for the rest of your life.

The candidates who have it will share example after example with you in the interview. The ones who don’t – they’ll struggle to come up with a few substantive examples.

As many of you know, I coach high school girls basketball. We can predict the future success when a freshman (freshgirl?) enters our program from middle school/junior high. What is this one trait that separates average and mediocre performance from exceptional? You guessed it – initiative.

Have you ever played a high school sport or had children that played a sport? How do most kids treat their high school sport? Like a part-time job. They clock in seconds before practice starts and clock out seconds after it’s over. What do the very best do? They consistently show up early and stay late to work on their skills and competency.

I can observe a freshman for a few months and predict with a high degree of accuracy what she’ll be like 4 years later on our varsity team if she sticks it out for 4 years. How can I do this? By observing initiative that is an obvious pattern of superior performance. She may lack the skills, strength, and knowledge when she enters our program, but by the team she’s a senior – she’ll be a rock-star – primarily by applying herself at a much higher level than her peer group.

You can easily see this among potential applicants – regardless of the level of the job. Initiative is that one trait that acts a multiplier. Individuals without the right experience, education, missing skills, and lacking knowledge – can frequently overcome those deficiencies through initiative.

Do  you have good examples of members of your team demonstrating initiative? Do you believe this initiative is a one-time anomaly OR a pattern of consistent behavior?

This is the one trait that stands “head-and-shoulders” above other success-based behavioral traits. We find it in all top performers and we find it missing in average and mediocre employees. This is why we consider the “INITIATIVE” question to be the first question in our 5-core question interview approach.

To learn more about our 5-core question interview approach, and specifically in measuring initiative, please feel free to download one of the audio programs from our extensive library of Internet Radio Programs. You can view the different free audio programs on hiring and retaining top talent by clicking here.

Barry Deutsch