How To Make Good People Great

How To Make Good People Great

How To Make Good People Great

By Mark Wager

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a private leadership session to a group of leaders from Holland. It was an enjoyable session as they all were experienced leaders so we were able to get into some interesting topics. One of the questions raised was about motivating staff. Usually this question comes from a position of having a poor performing member in the team and wanting to get them performing yet this was a more interesting situation when the staff members were very good. In the leaders opinion they were rated as eight out of ten but wanted to know how to get them to be ten out of ten. The situation of turning a very good performer into a great one is very different to a poor performer situation and requires a very different leadership strategy. In this article I want to give you an outline for dealing with this situation.

Articulate what "great" looks like

The best place to start is by eliminating any misunderstandings. It's often that I see leaders want to take a team member from 8/10 to 10/10 only to find that the team member already believes they are 10/10. We all have a personal view of the world and our place within that world. We believe this view with all of our heart to such a degree that we can overlook the fact that other people will have a different view of the world.

The majority of issues within the workplace are resolved by establishing a joint understanding of different people's perceptions. In this instance, break down what you mean by being "great." This is far more difficult than it sounds as we tend to communicate greatness by using language that opens itself up to more interpretation. E.g a leader may say a team member can become great by being proactive and professional yet both of these terms open up the door to further misunderstanding. We all share a similar idea of what proactive and professional means and yet the daily habits that make these possible will look different to different people. I know leaders who believe that professionalism is attending a meeting on time and anyone late is unprofessional yet I know other leaders who consider turning up 5-10 minutes late for a meeting is no big deal. For them professionalism is being prepared so that the meeting produces the designed results.
When discussing improvements aim to talk about daily habits, to such a precise degree that there is no room for different interpretations. This is not natural as we assume everyone understands what we say but remember greatness is never achieved by grand gestures, greatness is achieved by a series of small daily habits. Just ask any world champion in any sport and they will tell you that victory was decided in the daily grind during the months and sometimes years before the sporting event itself.

Align personal ambition to overall objective

People will work hard for you, in my experience the majority of people go to work in order to do a good job yet despite how hard they work for you they will work even harder for themselves. In order to reach their own dream people will sweat blood and tears and go far farther than they ever imagined possible. It's amazing how many times I see limitations smashed when what a person wants is on the other side of that limitation.
Great leaders produce great performance out of their team by discovering each of their dreams and aligning those dreams to the overall objective of the organisation. If a person sees that working for you will take them closer to their dream then you will unlock greatness within them. Don't be put off if the link between their dream and your business doesn't seem obvious, trust me it exists. I've worked with businesses and people from many different industries and nationalities and trust me when I say that greatness is connected. The qualities it takes to reach greatness in one field are very similar to what you require in another. The link is there you just need to find it.

Give back what you receive

Having a team member who is a 8/10 performer is a great asset yet it is very easy to fall from being very good to being average. Peoples connection to their organisation they work for and their boss they work with is never fixed, it is fluid and can change quickly. What influences this change is how the team member perceives they are being valued. By being valued I mean more than pay, monetary reward is important as its a concrete statement of a persons value yet it goes deeper than that. Consider any relation in your life and how many are defined by the exchange of money. Very few I imagine and definitely none of the important relationships. These vital relationships in life, whether it's with a partner or a close friend, ask yourself how does the other person know they are important to you? Is it by how much you show you care or by how many things you do for them without asking. Now consider your work relationships and imagine if you didn't include monetary rewards how would your team know they are being valued?
This is vital as people tend to reflect on what they receive. If people view the organisation poorly it's generally because they believe the organisation views them poorly. The opposite is also true so if you want a team member to give you 100% then be prepared to invest 100% in them. If you want your team to be a family then treat them like family, all of the time and not only when it suits you.

Greatness is a difficult aspiration as very few people reach it. If everyone reached it then it wouldn't be called greatness it would be called average. It's even more difficult when you want other people to achieve greatness but it is possible. You just need to be prepared to invest time in your team and start talking because together you can achieve the greatness you seek.

About the Author:
Mark Wager is an International Leadership Coach who specialises in designing and facilitating leadership development programmes for teams and individuals. If you are looking for a key note speaker or just want your team to fulfil its potential contact Mark via the enquiry form below.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Posted: Monday 8 February 2016

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