Effective Leaders get Everyone in the “Right Seat”

When I read the (rightly) popular Good to Great, I found myself agreeing with nearly everything in principle, but thought that some concepts were a little too idealistic for a small- to mid-sized organization.  Massive businesses, like his examples, have more luxury to move people around, for example.

That’s why I had a touch of a problem with scaling the notion of “put the right people in the right seat on the bus.”  Seems to me that the work of a leader is to get as close to that as possible, but acknowledging that much of the work of leading/managing is to coach and train people through their shortcomings.  If you run a small business in a small town, and can’t afford to pay much, you need to make some compromises.  Heck, that’s true in bigger businesses in bigger cities, too.

There’s a great book that helps scale that concept down for smaller organizations; it’s called Traction and it outlines an approach called EOS.  (You might suspect some self-promotion here – quite the opposite; I am not trained or authorized in EOS– I just admire, appreciate, and believe in it.)

Without reiterating (or plagiarizing!) the entire 30-page chapter, here’s the skinny on getting closer to identifying whether you’ve got the right person in the right place or not:

  1. Make a list of your organization’s core values.
  2. Use that list to rate the person’s congruence with the values.
  3. Honestly answer the question “Does this person WANT this job?”
  4. Honestly answer the question “Can this person DO the job?”

Now, if you have the luxury of an unlimited pool of people to replace anyone, you can set the standard at perfection: total alliance with the values, total desire for the position, and utter competency.

If you don’t have that luxury, you have to set a standard before starting the process.  Is 50% agreement with values okay? 75% agreement? Also, the author of Traction argues that the answer to the last two questions MUST be yes.  Certainly true, if you want to completely nail it.  Can you afford that luxury?  That’s up to you.

Regardless, this process really helps to make Good to Great’s ideal world seem a lot more relatable to the smaller organization.  Give it some thought.

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