Do You Know The People You Lead?

One of the more critical responsibilities of leadership is making sure you have the right people in the right positions. Leaders who don’t understand this fail, and they take their people right into the pit of failure with them. 


You can have one of the most talented people in the world on your team but if you don’t put them in a position to succeed then their chance at success goes way way down. 


Albert Einstein said that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” So it is with people too! 


You may not see all of your people as geniuses but each of them indeed has their own set of strengths and as a leader it is incumbent upon you to make certain that those strengths are put to good use. Doing so is good for both your organization AND your people.


One of the challenges many leaders face is that they simply do not truly know their people. They don’t know their motivations, they don’t know their goals (or if they even have any) and they don’t know what challenges their people are facing in their own lives. Too many leaders are almost completely unaware of the totality of their people’s strengths and that results in people locked into jobs that are often far below their abilities. 


No one wins when that happens. Underutilized people become unmotivated people in the blink of an eye. If you don’t know what you have in your people you’ll likely never get it out of them.


If you’re a leader and you’re not conducting regular “strength inventories” with your people then you run the risk of demotivating the very people you need to be as engaged as possible. Conducting these types of inventories requires you to interact with your people. It makes you get out from behind that Great Wall known as a desk and meet your people on their terms. Indeed, the huge side benefit of conducting “strength inventories” is you’re also taking the pulse of your organization. 


Do not believe your organization is so big that you as the leader can’t do this. You may leave some of the inventories to your HR group or other leaders but every leader in your organization should be doing at least some inventories of their own people. 

Not providing your people the opportunity to fully utilize their skills is one of the fastest ways to lose them. If you’re lucky once you lose them they will move on to greener pastures, if you’re not lucky then you’ll lose them and they will stay in your organization.

9 thoughts on “Do You Know The People You Lead?

  1. Quoting: “One of the more critical responsibilities of leadership is making sure you have the right people in the right positions.” The only words I would change would changing ‘One of the more’ to ‘Probably the most’ …

    1. There was a time when I just assumed all Pastors were leaders, then I remembered that they are human too. They means some will lead and others will not. But to this minute I remain confused about how you can read scripture every day and not be Servant Leader….

  2. Steve,
    you have a really good point, I think true leaders know their the people they lead, they know their strengths and their weaknesses and utilizate them accordingly. I also think is important that leaders check with the people they lead frequently to see how comfortable they feel in the role they are playing, maybe they are being underutilized or maybe the role it too much, being able to adjust is a key part of being a true leader.

    1. Thanks Herbert, I think you’re absolutely right about that. I am always surprised when working with organizations to see just how little communication this often is between a “leader” and the people they supposedly lead. That’s not true leadership in my book!

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