Leadership Lessons From a Selfish Bird

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My wife and I are in Palm Desert, and this week we ate at Tommy Bahamas on El Paseo, right downtown. Tommy Bahamas is a rooftop, open air restaurant where you can watch the goings on in the street below, the beauty of the stars above, or as it turns out, the antics of the birds that fly in and beg for food from the diners.

I’m basically a child, and I couldn’t resist throwing a tiny piece of taco chip on the floor. Quick as lightning a bird was there to snap it up. So, I threw another one. Again this little guy snapped it up and downed it in a second.

On impulse, I next broke off a piece of chip about the size of a dime and tossed it on the floor. He grabbed it in his beak and proceeded to run away from all his friends with his find. It was too big for him to eat, but he knew that if he set it down, he’d risk losing it forever.

For the rest of the evening he ran around the floor with that chip in his mouth, pursued by his colleagues. This went on for over an hour. Him running his heart out with a gaggle of birds running after him. We finally left so I don’t know how this drama ended, but it made me think about senior level leaders and how they sometimes act.

They may have ability like that little bird. He was quick on his feet and very productive at grabbing food. But do they have coachability? Can they learn to work with other people? Can they think of someone other than themselves? Are they open to hearing about how their actions and words effect others on the team?

Coachability separates the good from the great. Ability is about talent. Coachability is about attitude.

If you don’t have the ability, you’re not going to rise. But lots of people have ability. Not all that many are coachable. And without coachability, you’re going to stagnate at the level you’re currently at.

The higher you rise in an organization, the more all your issues relate to coachability.

None of us are very good at seeing our blind spots. Learning what they are takes humility.

So get coachable. Ask your team (or family) how you can improve. One of my great clients has as his company’s first core value: Be better

So be better. Get coachable.

Getting ahead is about getting started,

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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