There are two types of people in the world… Achievers, and those who go through the motions. Achievers have one thing in common, they take self-initiative. The top people in any field don’t need anyone telling them to get going, they are always ready to roll. If they know their goals, they can take things from there. I had a client say to me once, “Don’t these people report to you?” I said, “Ultimately, yes, but if we have to manage them at the level you are suggesting, then we don’t need them, and neither do you.” We give our team members the complimentary tools they need to be successful. Such as proper training, mitigation of unnecessary paperwork, elimination of time-wasting meetings, as well as personal support. If something matters to one of our team members, it matters to us.
The great Stephen Covey once said, “Taking initiative is a form of Self-Empowerment.” Like most endeavors in life, including success, it starts with self-initiative. I like to refer to someone who takes initiative as having what I call, “Oomph.” Does a person have what it takes to overcome challenging situations? Do they possess what I refer to as a “burning gut?” If they do, they have oomph. People who take self-initiative embody a self-competitiveness by nature. They will find a way over, under, or through a difficult situation. They are the person you want standing next to you in that metaphorical foxhole.
With that client who asked me about our people reporting up to me, I also added that we stay in close contact with everyone we have on a project. We have a high expectation around pulse-based communication. It’s like the IBM managerial style of “Managing while wandering around.” The premise is similar, in that we don’t have to allocate much time for inefficient meetings. Instead, we stay in consistent contact, all while entrusting our consultants to take initiative in making good decisions on behalf of the client, partners, and GlobalStar. Our people are empowered once they are in the field, they are professionals who self-manage themselves.
Back in the early eighties, there was an NBA player named Magic Johnson who was drafted by the Lakers. He was fresh off a National Championship at Michigan State, where he defeated Larry Bird and Indiana State. As a rookie, Magic was a phenom. A six foot nine, point guard. There had never been anyone in the history of the NBA with his ball handling, passing, and scoring ability packed into such a large frame. The head coach for the Lakers at the time was Paul Westhead. Westhead was known as a no-nonsense coach who was heavy on discipline. Under Westhead, they won the NBA Championship in 1980, but things begin to go sideways the following year when they lost in the first round of the playoffs. Eleven games in, in 1982, Westhead had lost his team and his job.
I remember Magic standing on the front of Sports Illustrated with hands out to his sides exuding the “I don’t know” expression. When interviewed, Magic said he just wanted to have fun. Westhead had inadvertently taken the fun out of playing. He didn’t empower his players. Instead, he smothered them with unnecessary guidelines and rules. He held the reins too tight. So, in comes a rookie coach who had been working as an assistant with the Lakers, but grew up playing basketball, and had a dad who was a coach. Pat Riley was a two time All American at the University of Kentucky and played in the NBA as well, and now the new coach for the Lakers. Riley was also a disciplinarian, but he understood what he had in the Lakers, thoroughbreds. He knew he had amazing individual stars in Jabbar, Magic, and Worthy. He just needed to purposely guide them as a team. Instead of smothering them, he held the reins loosely. Seven Finals and four Championships later, Riley proved the power of seamlessly working with highly driven individuals and bringing them together as team Champions.