A friend of mine who played football at Stanford, back when Bill Walsh was coach, told me a great story the other day. He said that, according to Walsh, there were three types of players.
- Those who need a kick in the butt.
- Those who need a hug.
- Those who need to be left alone.
As soon as I heard it, I thought two things: he’s right in sports and it applies equally to management.
One of the reasons I don’t believe in hard-and-fast rules that supposedly make things “very equal” among people is that people are very different. Some folks are motivated by money, some aren’t. Some need praise and reassurance to do their best work. Some know exactly what they want to do and exactly how to do it.
Good bosses, in my opinion, do not create organizations where everyone is treated identically. Instead, they adapt their management style to each of their team members. In the end, your job is not about equality. Your job is about getting the best work out of your team.
As I boss, I have two long-term metrics for my success:
- Will the people who have worked for me later say that they did some of the best work of their lives under my leadership?
- Did the people who worked for me go onto greater things in their career? How many later became CEOs, CMOs, or GMs?
If you keep a focus on these two long-term goals, hire excellent people, and adapt your style to them, I think you can become an epic manager and leader.
So kick some of your team, hug others, and leave the rest alone. Great things will happen.