The Rule of the Needle
Failing is easy – chase urgencies and neglect priorities.
Success is found by passionately
doing what matters most.
The thing that matters most for leaders
is building other leaders.
If you don’t develop others, you’ll never reach extraordinary.
- Avoid Model T’s. Before driving a Model T you crank it to get it started. If you have to convince, cajole, or constantly crank someone to get them going, that’s all you’ll ever do. You’ll crank them – they’ll sputter – you’ll crank them again the next time. Failing is easy; just spend your time cranking.
- Passion first. Find the most passionate people available and throw gas on their fire.
- Potential second. Potential seduces leaders who are dedicated to developing leaders. You see someone with talent, skills, and/or education and you start drooling like a dog at a dish. Potential apart from passion is constant frustration and ultimate disappointment.
- Respect matters. The more they respect you the more impact you’ll have.
- Practice trumps theory. Talking is useful but action matters most. Go with people prone to act.
- The sandbox principle. How well do they play with others?
The rule of the needle:
When it comes to people, there’s never perfect clarity regarding who to coach, mentor, and/or teach.
Ask yourself, “Are they passionate?” If the needle tips to yes, ask, “Do they have potential in this area?” If the answer is yes, ask, “Are they prone to action?” etc.
The needle determines what or who matters most. It doesn’t point to perfection or create certainty. Waiting for certainty and perfection wastes time and stalls progress. The needle indicates likelihood of success.
How do you determine what matters most?
How do you identify people you plan to develop?
I really like the respect/impact insight.
This happened just the other day. Someone who I initially had respect for, did a 180 turn and showed me their true colors.
Can they redeem themselves? Possibly. Although they’ll need to travel a long road to earn my respect for a second time.
p.s. I saw your tweet about automobiles. Did you settle on one?
I hear you on the lost respect issue. It’s a hard road back.
I’m leaning toward the Toyota Tacoma… 🙂
Potential second is a difficult one to deal with. There is a great desire to develop the potential.
I would agree that potential on its own, without passion, won’t go nearly as far.
Shaz, The flip side, of course, is passion apart from potential is a fiasco too.
I’ve made the mistake of going with people who I want to be part of the team because they have potential. I wish that wishing they would become leaders worked… I no longer go with those who I wish would jump in… I go with those who ARE jumping in…
“Practice trumps theory. Talking is useful but action matters most. Go with people prone to act.”
If you watch what people do (or omit), you will discover who they are. It’s not enough to go with people *prone* to act. You have to evaluate *how* they act, and understand *why* they act as they do.
Was this subsumed?
Thanks for adding your insights to this important idea. Love the term subsumed. I do a lot of subsuming. It gives space for interesting comments.
Excellent article Dan!!!
passion, potential, respect and action – great points that all work together–don’t quite get the cranking metaphor, but it is early in the morning
you are clear and concise – could you explain cranking a little more?
There are people you wish would become key players on your team but for one reason or another they are reluctant. I’m tempted to keep cranking them up… to help them become interested or motivated in doing more.
There’s a place for encouragement but people who consistently drag their feet – who always need to cranked – are not the best use of your time… no matter how much you wish they would jump in.
Hope that’s useful.. cheers
They aren’t firing on all cylinders?
Old: They have a clog in the gasoline line or dirty spark plug? New: Processor is old or router lag?
Maybe if I just clean the plug one more time or turn off the router and turn it back on it will run good.
They also may have periodic cases of the ‘yeah, butts’. 😉
Another great post – thank you!
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. – Ralph Nader
I think the how do people work with others from your list above can really help you find some of the future leaders in an organization. Most people in an organization for more than a year are role models to those who come in after them even if they are on the same level. Looking at your natural peer leaders in each group can help you identify those that you want to develop and grow to the next level. It takes some time and effort to find these people. But if you are communicating with your team regularly you will not only see these people in action but others will invoke their name when discussing things related to your company’s vision and goals.
This post was enlightening for me. I believe many people in my past have made the mistake of focusing on my potential and hoped that a passion would develop. My passion today is to develop others and I will work to learn from their past mistakes and search for those that want to change or develop.
Awesome post! How many times have I been seduced by potential only to wind up frustrated and disappointed? Never quite looked at it that way. Thanks.
I like the thing about passion. Passion is energy. Align it towards a goal and you´ll go places!
Another great article, Dan, and perfect timing. I’m polling the admin professionals at my job to find out who’s interested in becoming a member of a new chapter of IAAP (the International Association of Administrative Professionals), and your article gave me great insight into the types of people I need to cultivate, as well as those I need to avoid. Thank you!
Interesting chronology of blogs/responses Dan. Juxtaposing Jim Leeman’s keen observations yesterday about the transitory vocational mindset of Millennials re: loyalty as we shift to identifying solid potential leaders re: passion.
How to reconcile perceived gaps in loyalty with passion/potential for future leaders. Can you be passionate without loyalty?
I hear Yoda saying, “a conundrum, it is.”
Might make the case for the value of those early employment vision, mission, values dialogues (with emphasis on dialogues). And not just in platitudes, but as you noted in action too.
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I liked two specific things in your today’s post.
* The reason for failure is chasing urgencies and neglecting priorities. Absolutely true!
* The rule of the needle. Passionate-Potential-Prone to action.Just superb!
Leaders can identify right good people for development if they follow the right good system of identification. They have to be fair in their approach and can depend on the well researched feedback on individuals with ‘the rule of needle’ principles.
The lucky lot will possess qualities like ‘Self- commited, adaptable, go-getter, delivers results in time with full responsibility, an urge to learn and readiness to try newer things, a positive mind-set and follows values at work’.
I admire your bold statement, “The needle doesn’t point to perfection or create certainty but will lead to success”.
Hope, your post is read by the seniors at the top management level for desirable actions to sustain long-term organization success.
Good stuff Dan.
To add to #1, don’t give up on cars just because you had a Model T. It’s really easy to think all people are wasting your time if you’ve been burned once or twice.
I use this Bible principle called F.A.T. which means Faithful (passion), Able (potential), Teachable (prone to act).
Paul said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to FAITHFUL men, who shall be ABLE to TEACH others also.” (2 Tim. 2:22).
I really liked this article… interestingly I use to develop leadership classes for the Michigan State Police. I retired at 10 years to go back and finish my masters. I dragged my feet obviously as that was about 8 years ago.
I became a model-t. I see this in myself. I lost my passion… I will never reach my greatest potential and I have become comfortable with that.
But once in a while an article will hold me for a moment. I use to see people only as what there greatest potential was and I would weed out the rest of real life. I held to a conviction that we all have angels and demons within us but it is what we speak to and what is spoken to by people we respect that creates the action potential.
Anyway, thank you. gracias. danke.
The times where you can assess passion and potential at the same time are few and far between. Usually you hire for potential and then retain for passion. Passion is easily expressed in an interview, it is realy expressed on the job.
Assessing both potential and passion is easier when you have worked with people and are looking to give them an opportunity for growth.
However, the importance of both potential and passion is a point worth noting.
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I taught leadership development for years. This is some fantastic advice!! Thanks for sharing…