As a Seattle Seahawks fan since 1978 I found a recent quote from head coach Pete Carroll puzzling regarding their recently departed defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn. Mr. Quinn transformed the Seahawks’ defense into the best in the NFL and helped bring his team to two consecutive Super Bowls. So why would Carroll publicly comment on Quinn’s decision to take on the Atlanta Falcon’s head coaching position by saying, “I want to help Dan get whatever job he wants because he’s a great coach.” Really? If he’s so good then don’t you want to keep him in Seattle?
After a little thought it became clear that coach Carroll’s quote demonstrates a valuable and difficult quality in truly good leadership: invest in your team for the greatest return. Carroll knows that the best way for him to get the most out of his staff is to help them excel, even if that means eventually losing them. Demonstrating his trust and belief in his players and coaches by injecting them with an intangible shot of confidence and freedom to move forward is rewarded by maximizing his team’s motivation and morale to achieve their ultimate goal, win the Super Bowl.
Managers in the business world can demonstrate this leadership as well. Even if you know your direct reports don’t have much room to move within your organization, it’s still important to pay attention to their requests to become better employees and grow professionally. If they request reference material or training that’s not exorbitant, grant it. They will thank you and put what they learn to work for you. Your company will benefit from employees who feel valued and who can immediately put their new talent to work. If it turns out you help launch their career to a new position elsewhere then that’s a good thing. It may be bittersweet, but think about the pros and cons:
- You help build internal morale by paying attention to and rewarding employees who show initiative.
- You will improve performance during your employees tenure under you. It’s better to have an employee fully invested while working on your team than to have an employee who sticks around longer while performing at a lower capacity with a compromised attitude.
- Your company will benefit when your employee talks about what you did outside its walls.
- When your company builds a reputation as one that allows their employees to grow, it will attract other highly motivated people who show similar initiative.
- You lose a valuable employee after significant valuable contributions.
Managers, give your employees the benefit of the doubt and invest in them. If they eventually leave, they will leave happy. If you don’t and they stay, you will likely have the harder task of handling frustrated team members. I trust the Seahawks will weather Dan Quinn’s departure. Similarly, if you lead well, you’ll weather the loss of rock star employees who outgrow their role under you with grace and admiration.
This post is brought to you by: * Amara Touré - Amara Touré 1973 - 1980