What Bucket Are You In?

If you are in a high title position, it is likely that you should be more Shaq-like. What the heck is Shaq-like? Watch this video.

I am well aware that you are not a hall-of-fame athlete – and it’s likely no one stops you on the street for a picture or your autograph. But for those of you who hold high titles in your company, you do have some considerable cachet! (Meaning you have prestige that others acknowledge because of your title and position.) The result is that when you give your time and attention to others it makes an impact – and sometimes a huge impact – simply because you showed an interest in that other person.

I work with CEOs – and although there is a continuum, I generally can categorize leaders into one of four buckets with regard to this understanding.

Bucket 1: This is the rarest. These leaders recognize the opportunity they have to positively impact others simply by giving of their time and attention. They grasp that titles and reputation give them power to impact others – and they often make time to do just that.

Bucket 2: This is the largest group. These leaders simply don’t seem to understand the opportunity they have to impact others with just a small fraction of their time. They may be too humble or too modest to grasp the cachet they have – a fine personal trait, but one that leads to them failing to make the positive impact they could have on others.

Bucket 3: These leaders do grasp what I am saying, but they are just too busy to take time away from all the other important things they must do. I think this group has their priorities wrong, but sometimes wisdom does come with age. Some in this third bucket eventually start to recognize just how rewarding it is to use the power that comes from a title to propel the success of others, and (although a bit belatedly) they move to Bucket 1.

Bucket 4: These leaders are beyond redemption. They don’t get this “soft stuff,” and are far too important/arrogant to be bothered. They are busy making sure their reserved parking space is secure, the handouts for the upcoming board meeting will make them look great (we wouldn’t want to jeopardize that big bonus!), and that the accommodations for their next trip to Europe are first-rate. If you’re still reading this post, you’re likely not in this bucket.

A significant title gives you an opportunity to enhance the lives of others by doing or saying things that will propel those individuals down a pathway of greater success – simply by giving of your time.

I know – some of you are thinking that I am not appreciating the generosity of a leader when I use the phrase “simply giving of your time.” I mean, come on, Dr. H, don’t you know that time is the greatest gift of all! Actually – um, no. Yes, time is valuable to all of us – that’s a duh. But it is no great sacrifice for leaders to use a good portion of their time and influence to help others find greater success. This happens when a leader helps to build the confidence of a staff member, takes the time to teach and mentor, encourages others to set their ambitions a bit higher, or helps a staff member to become more comfortable with those in positions of power. All of these things constitute a fantastic use of time, and good executives also find these efforts to be fun and energizing.

Shaq gave the man his watch. But the impact was not because of the watch – it was the chance for that fan to know that Shaq was interested in him – and that for even those few seconds, he got to have Shaq’s attention focused on him. The man was really impacted by this brief interaction – and I bet it was also a highlight of the evening for Shaq.

So being in Bucket 1 is not a noble sacrifice and certainly does not qualify you for martyrdom; but if you give of your time and attention to build others often and well, it just might get you a step closer to heaven.