Don’t Teach the Quarterback to Catch

Someone gave me a book some time ago, How to Get to the Top, Business Lessons Learned at the Dinner Table. by Jeffrey J. Fox

 I have to say there are books that sit by your bed, some sit on a shelf and you take it down once in a while, and there are those really good ones that are short and sweet. Loaded with points and knowledge, almost life changing short stories, in the bathroom, next to the toilet. Don’t get me wrong at all; those are the ones you read over and over because you don’t ever want to forget about it and quote from it often. This particular book now stays in my carry case (graduated from the bathroom) wherever I go. It is so rich with business tactics and knowledge I often read it when ever I get a chance. The story below is one that I have always believed and prided myself on for my many years as a district, regional and director of sales. I don’t necessarily agree with all he writes but I did get the point, and I took a lot of heat many years for this frame of mind but was always at the top of the sales chain, as were my team. If you are anything like me, then you know any book that is kept in the bathroom is a complete compliment.

Don’t Teach the Quarterback to Catch

A standard question in a job interview is” what is your biggest weakness”? This is a dumb question. When the job candidate answers, “I can’t dance the Pablo Salsa, but I can sell,” does the hiring manager make a note saying, needs to work on his tango”?

A standard part of performance reviews is to “balance” the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. “you did an excellent job creating and introducing ten new products worth millions in new revenues, but {there is always a but} you don’t get your expense accounts in on time, your monthly reports are bare bones at best, and you let anyone park in your company-assigned parking space.”

Working on fixing weaknesses is a waste of time. Working on strengths is where the money is. If you are good at something, if your associates are good at something, work to make that something even better. Whatever you do that gives you an edge in the marketplace; whatever you produce for which customers are willing to pay; whatever works is where you work.

Assume you owned a professional football team and you paid big money to acquire a quarterback who was a terrific passer, and an end who could catch anything. Supposed the quarterback could not catch and the end could not pass. Would you have your coaches’ work to improve the quarterbacks catching? Or would you have the QB work on passing in the rain, on sideline passes, on better accuracy? Would you have the end practice catching a wet football, making sideline catches, or throwing a spiral?

Weaknesses are too often seen as problems to solve. Many managers believe they exist to solve problems, thus they work on weaknesses. So helping the brilliant but brusque engineer better “relate” to her associates is a typical management diversion.. forget about it. if she can’t relate, but she can invent and design, hide her someplace where she can pound out inventions and designs.

Lodovico Buonarroti Simony was a nasty, unlikeable brute who had the distinctly unsociable habit of poor hygiene. He yelled and he smelled. But the boy could wield a wicked chisel and wave a wild paintbrush. When the Vatican’s top moneyman, the exchequer, complained that Michelangelo was a financial disaster, that he was over budget, that he routinely tossed receipts that he charged stuff at local merchants without approval, and that he gulped Vino Rosso like it was acqua minerale, Pope Julius II  sighed and answered the cardinal, “get Mike a hundred more of the best chisels, and a hundred more of the best paint brushes the guilds can make. Throw in a case of Brunello di Montepulciano. And tell him whenever he’s finally done with the ceiling, I need two more Pietas. One more thing, Excellency: I want Mike painting. I don’t want him wasting a second thinking about money. You’re the moneyman, You do the money. Capisce?

Work on the products customers buy, no matter how old or boring. Work on the people who are proven cash register ringers, no matter how difficult to manage. Work on strengths.. Work on what is working or you wont be.

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About Greg_Longmuir

20 years as a Sales Management Executive, Digital Marketing and Sales Director , Call Center Director and Reputation Management Professional. _______________________________________________________________ 12 years as Director of Digital Marketing and Sales for the largest mattress retailer with over 1000 showrooms in 15 state DMA's. Sleepy's the Mattress Professionals,,, and _______________________________________________________________ Specialties Digital Marketing - Reputation management- Online Marketing - SEO/SEM - Sales Management Revenue Generation - Profit Building - Contract Negotiations - Competitive Analysis - Public Relations Policy Development -Media Buying - Call Center Operations -Mobile Marketing - Customer Insights - E-Commerce, Google Tools, Social Media, Mobile and the list goes on..
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