Archive | January, 2010

Creating Space for People to do Great Things

26 Jan

One of my favorite 360 feedback questions is “To what extent does the individual… Create Space for People to do Great Things”?. A 360 feedback tool gathers up feedback for an individual from multiple sources: supervisor, peers, subordinates, colleagues and other 3rd parties, hence the term 360 (Use hence in a sentence – check). It provides a 360 degree view of the individual’s behaviors, strengths and weaknesses. As I often use 360’s to help leaders develop ther skills, I believe the space question is one of the most important questions. Great leaders create space for others to excel.

In football, almost every single great run by a running back or wide receiver is set up by a key block. Without the block, it’s just a couple of yards. With it, the possibilities are endless, he.could.go.all.the.way… . A great receiver can help a running game by requiring defensive backs or even linebackers to play deeper on the play. This creates space for a running back to tack considerably yardage onto an average play. Wayne Gretzky was so feared by opposing players, their concern for where he was at any given moment cleared up space for Messier, Kurri and others to rack up an amazing number of points when they played with him.  Individuals can create the space for others to do great things.

Too often at work, or even at home, we get so bogged down with the day-to-day things that need to get done that we never provide the significant other people in our lives the opportunity to do great things. I believe that every individual has the know-how to go above and beyond and accomplish greatness, but how often are they really given the chance? Do we let them take the necessary risks? Deviate from the game plan for the potential big score? What is stopping us from letting it happen? What are we afraid of?

I was recently shopping in a local supermarket. 2 friends of my wife commented on how they thought it was great that I (the husband) was doing the shopping. Their message was that their husbands were incapable of doing the grocery shopping (I think?).  I told them that I was sure that their spouses would have no problem doing the shopping, but how would they handle their husbands coming home with the wrong items? Could they manage not commenting or saying anything derogatory. One responded honestly and said, “I know he will get the wrong things, that’s why I don’t even bother letting him go”. There it is, he’ll never even have a chance to develop into a great shopper becasue he will never be given the opportunity. Her loss.

So this year if you make one resolution, may I suggest this one. Create space for others to do great things. Whether they are employees, peers, supervisors, friends, children or spouses. If you give people the space they can do amazing things.

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