x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Lessons in leadership - take a tip from Coach Buttermaker

The Life: Do you believe in your leaders and employees? A little belief goes a long way.  But it appears it is not commonplace across the region who have faith in their staff.

In The Bad News Bears, Walter Matthau in the guise of Coach Buttermaker pressed the right buttons to get the best out his little league team. AP Photo
In The Bad News Bears, Walter Matthau in the guise of Coach Buttermaker pressed the right buttons to get the best out his little league team. AP Photo

Do you believe in your leaders and employees?

During a conversation with an executive in one of the leading merchant family businesses, it was said: "Our leaders are not worthy of this kind of investment in their development. They just are not good enough."

This reminded me of an earlier comment by the chief executive of a leading regional bank who revealed that the leaders two levels below him were rubbish.

Another chief executive was at a loss for words (and not in a good way) to describe his leaders. Unfortunately this sentiment is a common thread through high-level conversations.

As commonsense as this sounds, a little belief goes a long way. However, it appears it is not commonplace across the region to find leaders who believe in their managers and employees. If an executive feels this way, don't you think thestaff sense it?

Have you ever been around someone who you feel does not like you? Negative emotions are hard to hide and they do not live well behind a mask.

So when a leader does not believe in the workforce, rest assured they will sense the feeling no matter what attempts are made to masquerade it.

A lack of belief is a direct demotivator and like a punch in the gut to employee's performance levels.

Who wants to work for a leader who does not believe in them? By the way, who is responsible for this lack of belief? Surely, even if the employees lack capability, it is not their fault as they were hired by the organisation.

Lack of belief stems from the leaders who should be taking responsibility for it and working to remedy it. Here are two simple tips leaders can put into action to build belief. Believe in your employees - belief is a choice and as a leader you can choose either to do it or not. Anyhow your employees are your team and they are who you are relying on to deliver on the billiondollar organisational ambitions.

So if you choose not to believe in them, be honest with your organisation and reveal this scary truth. But what you should do is choose to believe in them and identify the promising points that can become your new-found focus.

Develop their capability, fast. I am reminded of the 1976 movie The Bad News Bears. Coach Buttermaker in an attempt to earn some extra cash decides to coach a little league (9 to 12-year-olds) baseball team who turn out to be a bunch of dishevelled misfits who have virtually no baseball talent.

If there ever was a case to have a lack of belief, this was it. But realising his dilemma, the coach set out to shore up their shortcomings, release the hidden talent and quickly build the players' skills. In essence he went from Coach Buttermaker to become Coach Better Maker - making his players better and into a championship team.

Sure that is Hollywood. But leaders who focus on building the capability in their business are like the coach who became Better Maker.

If you want to believe in your employees, then do it and choose to build their capability to be winners. Anyway, don't you want to work with great employees? We know they want to work for a great leader.

Tommy Weir is an authority on fast growth and emerging-market leadership, author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Markets Leadership Centre