Why you need FAT people to work for you and with you.

In earlier posts I wrote about the three benefits of an effective strategic team; that they will 1) extend your reach, 2) multiply your effectiveness, and 3) divide your work.

Admittedly that is easier said than done. Hiring the right people is not a simple task. Of the many factors that must be considered – competence and confidence, skill and attitude, and experience and education, there are three critical criteria.

Members of an effective strategic team must be FAT – Faithful, Available, and Teachable.

FAITHFUL, although often seen in a religious sense, is referred to here to mean to be loyal and diligent. The loyalty I speak of has two dimensions. The first is obvious. Your associates must have the interests of your company or organization at heart. Yes, I know I have written often about the innate self-interest that captures us all and I am not contradicting that here. I am placing an emphasis now on channeling that self-interest so that is advances the objectives of your company or organization at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. But there is a subtle priority I think is critical. As important as institutional loyalty is, that is not the top level faithfulness that you need. You need associates who are PERSONALLY loyal. They are there to extend YOUR reach, multiply YOUR effectiveness, and divide YOUR work. Institutional loyalty can foster political ambition which seldom works out well for you. The appeal of power, prestige, and payola can become irresistible for some and they will find ways to work subversively. Read Machaiavelli’s The Prince and you’ll see what I mean.

The second side of Faithfulness is diligence. You have to have hard working people who handle their jobs responsibly. They cannot ever multiply your effectiveness and divide your work if you must constantly wonder whether they’ve shown up today and are exercising resourcefulness. Diligent people are careful to fulfill job requirements, handle tasks professionally, and here’s the kicker, report back to you. Faithful people are accountable people. You do not have to run them down to find out what they did or did not do, they report to you.

AVAILABLE means to two things as well. The most obvious is that they have the time to work for you. They are at hand, ready to serve, willing to participate, enthusiastic about working. Often availability is primarily considered in the passive sense. A car is available to drive – passive,but it won’t drive itself – active. In leadership you can afford very few passive participants. If you must be the starter, everything then focuses on you to get things going. Available people are active. They seek out responsibility. The look for ways to help. They volunteer. They offer ideas and methods

The second meaning hitchhikes on the first in that they are AVAIL –ABLE. Avail means efficacy, the effective use in the achievement of a goal or objective. They can grasp your objectives, marry them, and make them personal objectives. It is the efficacious side of this that you as a leader want to focus on. Remember, the context in which you work is focused on reaching objectives, making accomplishments, producing a visionary reality and AVAILABLE people help you make that happen.

TEACHABLE  means that they are not so insecure or so arrogant that they cannot take direction. Truly great people are truly great learners. There is a vast difference between confidence and conceit. Confident people know what they can do…and what they cannot. See my blog post where I reveal what Dirty Harry has to say about this here.

Teachable people are also ABLE To TEACH. They can bring others along, instruct and tutor others as well. To multiply your effectiveness and extend your reach you want to get beyond the first level. Those you influence must be able to influence another level of participants. You get more done when more things are being done by more people.

So, there it is. FAT people do you good. How have you found FAT people to work with you? What experience have you had with someone who was institutionally loyal (politically motivated) as opposed to personally loyal?

Who do you know that is struggling with working in isolation? Send this blog post on along to them.

NOTE: Today I am en route to Uganda, East Africa, where I will be working for the next six weeks. The internet works there (mostly) so I will be posting on my regular schedule although the time of day may vary. Stand by for leadership lessons from that side of the world.


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