In education we spend too little time reading about great leaders and their techniques and strategies outside of the world of education. I was able to delve into the Steve Jobs biography this week and one of the many things that stood out to me was the insistence of Steve Jobs throughout his career that ‘A+’ employees don’t want to work with ‘B’ employees. I resoundingly agree with that sentiment – who wouldn’t want to work with the best employees. The question then becomes how can leaders most effectively increase the percentage of ‘A+’ workers in their organization? I will provide a few quick pointers below:
1) View maximization of your staff’s capacity your primary responsibility as a leader. It is your job to make everybody else better at theirs. Period.
2) Accountability does not frighten your best employees. Demand defined expectations from all. In a system of accountability your best employees are comfortable and those with room to grow should feel comfortably uncomfortable.
3) A great leader constantly seeks to clarify organizational norms. Many good leaders address when norms are broken, but only the great leaders proactively seek out opportunities to reinforce the organizational expected functions. Clear organizational norms allow for greater employee success.
4) Be fiercely committed to the mission and vision of your organization. Not a single company dreams of being average. An organization cannot achieve great things with substandard employees. Some employees may be incapable or unwilling to ever being an ‘A+’ employee. Being fiercely committed to the mission and vision of your organization should provide explicit direction to a leader when it comes to making the most difficult of personnel decisions. Be courageous. Be uncompromising when it comes to the values of your organization.
A+ organizations have A+ employees. It is time to lead the change within your organization.