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Leaders must steer a wary course between keeping their fingers in every pie, dictating in detail what is to be done by whom, and on the other hand slackening the rein so that assistants learn only by experience and make costly mistakes.

People have great potential if they want to train themselves. Perhaps the greatest challenge in training someone else is getting the person to want to be trained.

The gateway, I believe, is personal relationship. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, I've never been able to fully motivate a person I didn't like. The same is true of training. I can instruct someone I don't like. I can teach a person the expressways of Dallas whether I like him or not, but I could never develop that person's skills and talents.

I learned this from experience. While working with a certain individual, I wasn't making any progress, and I wondered why. Finally I realized I didn't like the man. He was outgoing and had good comprehension skills—but he overrated himself, and that irritated me. I consciously tuned out his bragging, and that prevented me from getting close to him personally.

Finally I realized what was happening, and I began to find other things in him to like. An interesting thing occurred: He began to develop very well.

Before any of us can be trained, we need to believe somebody wants us to do well, believes in us, likes us, respects us.

Train Strengths, Not Weaknesses


In developing somebody, the odds of improving existing strengths far outweigh the odds of improving weaknesses. An individual can improve his weaknesses, but it's rarely done from the outside.

You can threaten the person. You can make him afraid. But that won't bring improvement. On the other hand, if you point out strengths and help develop them, you capitalize on the person's desire to do those things he's already good at. (He obviously has no ambition for things he does poorly.)

If a certain weakness is so bad you can't ignore it, you may have to do one of two things: get him to work on it, or admit you can't utilize this person. This amounts to developing someone through fear (the fear of losing his job)—which is far from ideal.

By taking the positive approach, you may awaken a strength the person didn't know he had. I've seen people discover artistic talent in middle life—a craft, painting, music, or something else. Part of training is testing for areas of additional capability.

Training Is Costly


One of the expenses of training is that you commit yourself to people who make mistakes. Mistakes are simply part of the bill, and there's no way to prevent them.

Think about giving a person a new job that has a lot of detail. Until he or she gets familiar with that detail, some things are going to slip. This will cost money and aggravation. But it's part of the training.

When a person first starts to supervise, for example, he often waits too long to handle grievances. They fester. That is why you say, "A grievance has to be handled on time. You can't postpone them. People ...

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Posted: May 19, 2004

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