Against All Odds
Underdog … long-shot … outsider. Commentators used these words to describe a horse that replaced one that scratched the day before the Kentucky Derby. Given the odds of 80:1, this last-minute entry – Rich Strike – astounded everyone by winning this prestigious race.
That got me thinking about brilliant leadership, and how leaders look at their teams. How quickly is a newcomer (i.e., “outsider”) assimilated seamlessly into an existing team? What assumptions are made about those who are a bit quieter than others? Why are certain people left out of growth opportunities?
One of my clients led a team comprised mostly of Type A personalities, yet he wasn’t known for nurturing a high-performing team; rather, he was known as a leader who plays “favorites.” That meant that he gave the same people all the high-profile projects.
His leadership style may be considered practical by some people because of an assumption that previous successes (i.e., wins) have a higher likelihood of succeeding/winning again. BUT … what if there were underdogs on the team? What if the quiet team member had untapped skills?
“Never saw it coming … out of nowhere … stunning upset” were the headlines after the Derby win. Interviewed after the race, the owner and trainer were asked if they honestly thought their horse had a shot at winning; they wouldn’t have entered Rich Strike, they replied, if they didn’t think he could win.
Rich Strike’s ‘leaders’ believed in him. Given the impact of brilliant leadership: How might team members perform if they knew their leaders believed in them? What I know from my years as both an executive and a leadership catalyst to executives and teams is this: When people know that they are valued and the work they do matters, they will go the distance.
This Week’s Challenge: Think about the people with whom you routinely interact – in life and at work. Who are you underestimating? What assumptions are you making? How can you demonstrate your belief in their capabilities and/or potential?
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