Don’t Confuse Their Role With Their Capabilities

My best friend and I played on the same football team in college. He was a defensive back. He was fast and strong yet never fulfilled what many believed was his potential. Years later, after both of us became coaches—him in high school, me in college—we figured out why. He was in the wrong role.
We pigeonhole people. Lisa is a “finance person.” Jake is an “operations guy.” Once we’ve labeled them, we make assumptions about their capabilities. Yet they might have capabilities we aren’t aware of. Maybe Lisa, your finance person, is especially strong with technology and loves finding ways to apply it. Maybe Jake, your operations guy, gets energized designing ways to deliver great customer service.
Is it possible you’ve got some people in the wrong roles?
A big part of your job as a leader is to best utilize the talent you have to help your organization win. To do that, you need to understand the full range of your peoples’ capabilities.
Here are three questions to ask:
1. Do I know the range of capabilities each of my people possess?
2. Are any of my people underperforming simply because their capabilities aren’t well matched to their current roles?
3. Given their capabilities, what would their ideal roles be?
My friend? He would have made a great linebacker. He wasn’t just strong, he was aggressive. He loved physical contact and being in the thick of the action. That’s what you want in a linebacker. On the other hand, while he was fast, he was more straight-line fast than agile. And as a defensive back, you need both. All things considered, he would have been a much better linebacker than he was a defensive back.
Look at your people with fresh eyes. Ask the three questions. Get them in the right roles. Then you’re more likely to win.
Make it happen.
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