By Les McKeown
We’re pleased to bring you a guest post from Les McKeown, President & CEO of Predictable Success. In this role, he advises CEOs and senior leaders of organizations on how to achieve scalable, sustainable growth and speaks to Fortune 500 companies about his breakthrough strategies.
For me, the most telling environment in which to assess leadership potential is that old stand-by, the management meeting. Precisely because it is often routine, prosaic, even boring, the contrast between those who have leadership potential and those who don’t is often stark. Here are some of the most obvious contrasts:
Managers look at screens, leaders engage with people. If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, put the screens away when you’re in a meeting. Look at the people in the room, not at your laptop. Talk to them. Focus on them – not at your handheld or your smartphone.
Conversely, if you want to be thought of as a manager rather than a leader, fire up your laptop and start pecking at it during every meeting you attend. Or grab your phone every 7 minutes and stare intently at it. Make clear that the day-to-day tactical detail of your job is way more important to you than the strategic issues everyone else is there to discuss.
Imagine you actually achieve your heart’s desire and hit the big time in your favorite sport – NFL, NHL, NBA, English Soccer League, Bundesliga – whatever works for you. You turn up in the locker room on day one and… you start telling everybody how kaizen, Six Sigma, employee orientation or the five p’s of marketing are really what your team-mates need to start thinking about – not how to be a great player and win games.
That’s precisely how you sound when you start making sports analogies every time you get together with your colleagues at work. Yes, there are a few points at which business and sports intersect, but they are fewer than you think, and by constantly pulling out a sports analogy every time a business discussion arises, you simply make it clear that you’d rather be there than here.