In a recent conversation with an organizational psychologist, I was asked, “What are the top three things you look for in the members of your management team?” That’s a big and important question. Yet I was able to answer it quickly and easily: “Trustworthiness, compatibility, and talent.” The next sentence I uttered might surprise you; it surprised me. Without really thinking, I followed up my four-word sentence about what I look for in the people who make up my management team with these three words: “In that order.”
One of the national hotel chains, in an attempt to attract business travelers, advertises that if you stay at its hotels, you’ll be able to take on “the 800-pound gorilla in the room.” The ad shows Regional Manager Amy, after spending a night in one of the hotels, being able to tame the chest-pounding 800-pound gorilla the next day in her meeting.
Vince Lombardi once said, “I think coaching is teaching, see? So I don’t think there’s any difference whether you teach on the football field or whether you teach in the classroom. They’re both exactly the same. It’s a question of . . . a good teacher puts across what he wants to his pupils. Whether it’s done on a football field or whether it’s done in a classroom, it’s one and the same.”
Marvin Bower joined McKinsey & Company in 1933 and served as the management consulting firm’s managing partner from 1950 to 1967. In 1997, he published a book titled The Will to Lead: Running a Business with a Network of Leaders, in which he shares his perspectives on leadership. One of Bower’s beliefs is that a command-and-control management structure “with each superior exercising authority over subordinates who do exactly what their boss wants” is flawed and presents numerous problems for companies. And in the book, he makes a case that this type of structure has to be replaced: “Authority should be replaced by leadership.”
My youngest son came home from school the other day with a packet of information from one of his coaches. Included in the packet was a sheet of paper titled “The Leadership Continuum.” It outlines five levels of leadership and what is necessary to demonstrate each. I hadn’t seen this before, but in reading it, I thought it was certainly applicable not just to team sports but also to the team environment in the workplace.
Over the weekend, I was watching a piece on legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The documentary chronicled Lombardi’s life growing up in Brooklyn through his storied years as a championship coach with the Packers. As a Packers fan, I’ve read biographies on Lombardi and other books that have discussed the man and his abilities, but there was one story told in this piece that I had not heard before. The story was told by none other than John Madden, himself a Super Bowl champion coach and famed football broadcaster.
If you, like me, were one of the tens of millions of people who watched the Academy Awards Sunday night, you saw a celebration of excellence in a profession. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927. And, according to its website, “one of the first Academy committees was Awards of Merit. The first Academy Awards were officially presented at a black-tie dinner at the Roosevelt on May 16, 1929, honoring achievements between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928.”
A man is in a restroom standing in front of a urinal when he finds himself with a dilemma. He has somehow dropped a $5 bill into the urinal. As he is contemplating what he should do about his five bucks, another man enters the restroom. The second man quickly sees the problem and asks, “What are you going to do?”
When I flipped on the television yesterday to check out the Olympics, I found myself watching the men’s Super-G Alpine skiing. By the time I had tuned in, the celebrated American skier Bode Miller was safely at the bottom of the slope and sitting in first place. This is believed to be the final Olympics for Miller, who has won six medals in this and previous Olympic competitions.
While watching the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics, I was struck by the many similarities between a country’s Olympic team and a company’s employees. It might seem odd to draw that particular comparison, but let me explain and see if you also notice the correlation between the two.