A few years ago, Seth Godin published his best-selling book, Linchpin. Essentially, a linchpin in an organization is that individual who is nearly impossible to replace – one who brings everything they have to what they do and makes things happen like no one else can.
If you have a linchpin, you have a treasure.
What if you could have a whole team of linchpins? Can you even imagine the effect it could have on your organization?
“But, wait,” you say, “I don’t have a team of linchpins. I have a team that is dysfunctional, low energy, and incompetent. Most days, I feel more like a babysitter than a leader.”
Well, I am here to tell you, you are not alone.
Today’s business leaders face many unique challenges, but one is timeless, and that is having to deal with people. One of the main reasons I am called in to work with companies stems from one issue, and that is, “How do I get my team to work together and reach the goals we’ve set?”
Think for a moment about your team.
Would you say your team is…
- High energy or Anemic
- Self-Motivated or Unmotivated
- Talented or Weak
- Competent or Incompetent
- Diligent or Lazy
- Cohesive or Divided
- Creative or Bored
- Loyal or Disloyal
- Trustworthy or Unreliable
- Dependable or Undependable
If your team assessment is not what you want it to be, don’t worry, there is hope.
Follow this simple four-step checklist to determine what you can do to begin creating your linchpin team today.
You did your due diligence and hired good talent for the positions in your company. But hiring good talent is just the beginning. Ideally, you want these talented individuals to grow and take on new and more advanced responsibilities.
The problem is that company leaders are having to demand more of employees than ever, yet they fail to provide the necessary training for these new responsibilities.
Most employees will step up to the plate and learn what it takes to do the job; but they may become resentful in the process. If you, instead, offer training to your team and help them grow continually, you will have a ready team that feels valued because you have invested in their success.
You will also have a team that feels empowered to make decisions and own the outcome. And when employees feel that sense of “ownership”, they become linchpins.
Engage Individual Strengths
You want a high energy team, one where people come to work every day (well, most days at least) excited to be there. Does this mean you have to hire high energy extroverts for every position?
Absolutely not. In fact, I would advise against that.
The reality is that an introvert in IT or accounting can be just as excited about their job as an extrovert in a sales position. And you as the leader must know your people well enough to make this distinction.
If you look at your team and see low energy, check the positions. Talk to your people. It may be the ideal job they are searching for on their lunch hour is right there within your organization.
Company leaders tend to believe that if a person can DO a job, they would naturally be the best person to MANAGE those who do the job; and so the natural tendency is to promote our best doers to management positions. If they have been successful in the job, it makes sense that they would be the best qualified to lead others to that same success. To a large degree, this is true, and it is often advisable to develop and promote from within.
EXCEPT…not all doers want to become managers. And some may desire to progress to management but not know how to lead people. It is your responsibility as a leader to know your people and their strengths well enough to know if a doer should be promoted to manager. And if so, you owe it to them to invest in their success by training them for that new position.
Doing and managing involve two very different mindsets. If they are ready and eager to take the challenge, equip them. If not, find a way to reward them for being the best doer in their current position.
Motivation is in the eyes of the beholder. What motivates one employee may totally disengage another. And what motivates people more than any other thing is feeling valued and appreciated in a way that speaks to them. Show me an employee who truly feels valued, and I’ll show you an employee who will do whatever it takes to make you and your organization a success.
In The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Dr. Chapman and Dr. White help identify the different ways to show this appreciation. This is a good read, and I encourage you to study and learn what motivates each individual on your team.
Leading a team is a definite challenge, but like any challenge, it also has an inherent reward. That reward is exponential success…the kind that translates to your company’s bottom line and to your own personal satisfaction.
Strength Leader LLC is all about creating linchpin teams for companies and non-profit organizations. Why? Because linchpin teams create phenomenal results! Contact Deb Ingino, CEO of Strength Leader LLC to discuss ways you can create your own linchpin team.