Over the holidays while I was slothfully catching up on some overlooked TV, Ted Lasso spoke to me (not literally). Damn, there are some leadership lessons here. So from the couch, my leadership self-evaluation became a Netflix resolution binge resulting in the SWOT-like graphic you see above. It’s meant to be light-hearted and here for all to see in the hope that it will nudge me in the direction of my goals. Maybe you’ll want to play along and send me your personal SWOT and think about what small-screen characters best typify your quirks. My apologies in advance if you don’t follow the same shows as I do, but I’ll try and explain as I go.
Y’all know what a SWOT is. Yes, it’s that uncomfortable probing group exercise we go through to take stock of our business assets and deficits so we can (hopefully) re-prioritize our efforts amid all the day-to-day work. It’s a tried and true tool for uncovering hidden scourges, and for getting a team to rally around a set of goals. Being human naturally, we’re more likely to actually meet our goals when our friends and colleagues are breathing down our necks – maybe that’s why it works. Here’s my self-eval:
I’m at my best when I’m coaching like the bubbly Ted Lasso. Encouraging my team to bring out their best performance. Shining sun on the grumpy, cajoling the tired, challenging the self-victimized, and making sure that everyone recognizes how their contribution adds to what we accomplish. To use Ted’s favorite word: BELIEVE. This is when I’m multiplying my efforts through my team and liberating their competence.
As an owner, I am responsible for portraying a positive narrative and keeping slogging no matter how deep the snow gets. The problem is I sometimes don’t have the answers, or at least not yet. So that is when I stall, or give vague directions and I take on unpleasant tasks that I should be delegating. I resort to applying the ‘reality distortion field’ that Walter Issacson described at Apple. This makes me feel like Jimmy McGill getting ready for his next con. When I catch myself in this mode I know I’m not making the best use of my time or skills and am likely frustrating my team.
The semi-fictitious Thomas Shelby leads the ruthless Peak Blinders crime family in post-WWI Birmingham. While his “persuasive” ways would come in handy dealing with GCs it’s really his communication style that I admire. Tommy is unambiguity about plans, performance expectations, or whether a goal is attainable. His family meetings are to-the-point and free of fluff. When Tommy meets opposition he holds his ground with cool unyielding confidence. This is the clarity I want to portray (I could go for that undercut hair and tailored suits too). I also appreciate how Mr. Shelby is not above doing lowly tasks. He shows up in the clutch with sleeves rolled up when his family needs him.
Great Scott! Construction is where the best-laid plans of mice and men go to expire. At least that has been the case for the last two years. Like Doc in Back to the Future, we seem to be constantly tossed into situations where we are seconds away from the melting of the space-time continuum. I haven’t enjoyed how it feels when projects are running late and we are scrambling to meet customer expectations. Yes, I think the industry is slowly returning to greater predictability, but we still have to double the expected lead times for materials and labour and make sure our customers understand realistic timelines. My challenge as a leader is to trust my team with these challenges and not let urgent problems keep me from the more important work of building the future company.
I’d love to see what your personal SWOT looks like.