People who are truly committed to their profession, their team, and their potential tend to have little trouble bouncing out of bed, giving their best, and end the day satisfied with the effort. We may not always be thrilled about the outcome, but we don’t control that. However, we do control the level of our effort, the precision of our execution, and the visibility of our commitment. We are intrinsically motivated and measure our worth in the peace of mind that accompanies giving our best day in and day out. We seize opportunity, we demand a great deal from ourselves and our teammates, and we have trouble seeing The Others give less than their best – We are The Engaged.

Leaders have a tendency to lean on the most capable, dependable, and committed teammates – The Engaged. We tend to ask more from them than we do of The Others.  When we do this, we get short term wins and we burn out our strongest teammates – The Engaged. At the same time, we create a divide in our team, let The Others off the hook, and almost certainly diminish the long term performance of our team. In a truly meritocratic world, we may choose to cast aside The Others and make way for more members of The Engaged. But let’s face it, in many cases, policies, laws and union lobbies prevent us from getting rid of The Others and make it all but impossible to replace them with new talent in a responsible manner. We have two options, sanction their level of engagement or engage The Others so they begin to want to become more than they are. Few of us are in positions to pick our teammates, but all of us can make the choice to raise the bar across our team. And regardless of respective levels of engagement, all members of our team are just that, part of our team.

One of my favorite teammates predictably and enthusiastically responds, “Above average, thanks!” each time he is asked, “How are you doing today?” Simple math dictates that if something is above average each day, the average is getting higher every day. With respect to measuring the average performance across the team, The Others can unintentionally undermine any and all improvements generated by The Engaged. And if The Engaged keep pulling The Others along and choose to disengage out of frustration, the average plummets instantaneously. So, if we are to enjoy above average days, we must engage everyone on our team. I tend to align my extracurricular mentorship efforts to individuals who are visibly committed to reaching their potential, passionate about the work, and dedicated to working with teammates. By extracurricular I mean that these individuals are not formally on my team, but have attributes that make us part of the same tribe. I do that because one has to want to be better than they are if there is any real hope of seeing a return on the investment – and coaching most certainly is an investment. Many people say they want to be a better person, they want to improve their health, or they want to become better at their craft, only to allow their actions to completely contradict their words. They are not truly engaged and therefore not worth our effort – Or are they? Can we see a more dramatic improvement in team performance by focusing more of our attention on The Others, while leaving The Engaged to their own devices?

I believe true leaders are committed to the longview. We invest in our tomorrows even more passionately than we do our todays. We believe that the impact we have on others cannot be measured until long after we have gone separate ways. And we are able to rally The Engaged to collectively coach The Others; helping them to cross the chasm that once constrained us. Here’s to Engaging The Others!

  • Are you effectively engaging The Others?
  • Are you taking the truly engaged for granted?
  • What is the trajectory of your team’s average?