RSS Growing A Garden of Leaders

I have a favorite comment I like to share with our newest employees as I conclude their day-long orientation, which typically takes place anywhere from three to six months AFTER they have been working for us. I tell them this, “My job is to attract and retain talented individuals who have both the DESIRE and the CAPACITY to be significant.”

I further share with them that the simple fact they are attending orientation tells me they have demonstrated a strong desire to be significant; that they have embraced our corporate culture; and they have contributed positively to our team environment. Obviously, most employees at this stage are “too new to rate” in terms of their capacity to be significant. Thus my job is to help our supervisors understand how to assess an individual team member’s significance-capacity and then help the employee build skills by offering prompt, honest coaching without owning the issues that are being addressed. Notice how I phrased the above sentence, because it is a subtle yet significant change over the more traditional management style. I stated “help the employee build skills,” and not “teach skills.” This is an important concept to understand as it relates to employee performance and the ever-increasing futility of top-down management.

Employees today, especially talented and motivated ones, don’t want to be told what to do. In fact, they would rather work elsewhere for less money than put up with a “know-it-all” boss who only knows how to speak and rarely, if ever, sits down to listen. What I have found to be supremely effective is to attract smart and motivated employees who don’t need to be told to do anything. What they want is a positive work environment that allows them to share their strengths with the expected result of making our clients smarter, more profitable and more efficient. In the process, our employees often help clients simply be happier as well. What good talent needs is strong nourishment, which comes in the form of effective knowledge and the confident execution of rehearsed skills.

I frequently share with new employees an analogy that compares our company to a flower garden and my role as market president to that of a gardener. In order to get the desired results, I nourish the soil (create a positive corporate culture), feed and water the plants (provide access to training, mentoring, ongoing communication and appropriate performance measurements) such that the flowers (our talent) grow to their maximum beauty (the full extent of their individual significance). Yeah, it’s a bit hokey, but it is quite vivid. We have all walked through gardens and noted how some flowers are in full bloom, others have yet to bloom and still others are past their “prime.” Each employee can be thought of as a distinct and separate flower, each requiring individual attention in order to maximize the beauty of the garden as a whole. As the gardener, I have to be concerned about weeds cropping up (talent gone astray) so that they do not adversely affect the health of the garden (our company). Additionally, I need to constantly read up on the latest horticultural techniques (management, leadership books) for fear that my garden may one day lose its allure to a more luscious garden nearby.

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3 Responses to “Growing A Garden of Leaders”

  1. Justa Bilden says:

    I am a big fan of this blog and I check it regularly. Keep up the great work!

  2. Cathi Hatch says:

    Great musings, Mitch!!

  3. Mitch says:

    Thank you, Cathi!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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