“No matter how long the runway is, a pig won’t fly.” – Phrase
The phrase above is an adynaton – a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question will never occur. The phrase has been used in various forms since the 1600s as a sarcastic remark.
The future is about the vision. Vision is the passion that stirs within someone, it lets people know where someone is headed and why they are wanting to go that way. So, what is leadership’s core responsibility? It is to consistently see and communicate the future as well as anticipate opportunities and obstacles. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins emphasizes the importance of “getting the right people on the bus” and then leveraging their strengths to “drive the bus” (your organization) to its destination, which is the future or desired vision. The number one rule for a leader is to hire the right people for the job. Hiring the right people follows the clear understanding of what the organization seeks to achieve. Yes, I know for a fact that some leaders inherited people that were wrongly hired, people who are not qualified for a job and even though others may have the correct paper qualification, but they are not fit for the role they were employed for. These employees are mostly not bad people, but not a good fit for the role and they give subpar performance.
There is a widely popular belief that training “fixes” people. Well, training is necessary, but it shouldn’t be used to “fix” people. Some organizations invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money in training people that are not suited for the job. People can learn new skills and sharpen their existing abilities, but the purpose of training isn’t to “fix” people. This is where the opening phrase is used: “No matter how long the runway is, a pig won’t fly.” Just yesterday, my wife and I had a dinner outing with our family friends in this very classy restaurant. A waitress who was serving us came to us, greeted us, and then off she went with her script: “Tonight, we have these special appetisers (starters)” she went through them (using a hand-held screen she was carrying) so fast that she left us surprised as we couldn’t remember a thing. She couldn’t even pause or at least at the end ask us if we understood, then she quickly disappeared. Wow, we were so taken aback by this. I then said, guys, this is training that has been provided to her – to read the script. Unfortunately it doesn’t serve the purpose. There are many organizations, like the restaurant we were in, that boast about the training they provide without testing its effectiveness. For me, the poor waitress did what she was trained to do but has no connection with it whatsoever, she’s just doing it to get paid. Leaders have to be willing to accept the fact that there are some things that certain individuals will never learn to do well. The individuals that operate your organization and interact with your customers are living embodiment of your company’s brand image. The focus must always be on serving the customer and delivering on your brand promise.
When people don’t perform, leaders need to look in the mirror. Whenever you have an employee who is failing in their job, you need to examine what you did or didn’t to contribute to the situation. As a leader, you need to ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Did I hire the right person?
- Have I established the goals and performance standards and provided the specific direction and support needed?
- Have I provided the correct amount and type of training?
- Have I mentored and coached this employee? Etc.
In my neuroleadership talks and training program, I expand on this and give insights in terms of neuro-diversity and how to build dream teams from neuroscience perspective. As a leader, it’s important to find the right match at work and the appropriate means of communication in order to facilitate understanding and collaboration between the different personality types. And since it’s a rare team that is perfectly matched, it is even more important to leverage the understanding of each other’s biological preferences and the do’s and don’ts of treating others. This will help you as a leader to play to your co-worker’s strengths, even if they might be very different from your own.
Here’s the important thing to remember and consider in matchmaking:
- Some people are naturally good at coming up with new ideas – the creatives, they challenge and look beyond the status quo. They get suffocated by routine. These are your creatives, they can start the project but not maintain it.
- Some are good at maintaining the status quo, and making sure that whatever was agreed on gets done and maintained. You need these people. These are your good administrators.
- Some are good at building relationships and keeping peace among teams and conflicting individuals. These are good negotiators and are high in empathy.
- Some are very analytical and logical, they are decisive and results driven. They mostly bulldoze their way to achieve results. These mostly lack diplomacy.
So, you can’t equally get all these personality traits in one person and trying to do so will be expecting a pig to fly. As a leader, a matchmaker for best results, you need to know that though people can learn and improve, but they will be more powerful in their areas of strength. A key responsibility for a leader is to “fit” people into a role that is good for them, a role that matches their strengths. In order to achieve this, the leader must take the time and have the passion to know their people well.
Veli Ndaba is a Neuro-Conscious Leadership Speaker and Trainer, Life & Business Coach, Motivational Speaker and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org, www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773