Why Aspirations Trump Skills

aspirations and skillsI’ve given a lot of thought lately to what I consider to be a key pillar of leadership: matching skills with responsibilities.  As obvious as this sounds, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen leadership teams miscast talent for various jobs and then pay dearly in lost production as a result.

But what about aspirations?  If we truly believe in and encourage people to evolve and grow as individuals, shouldn’t this matter more than the skills they possess right now?  I feel this is especially important with top producers.

Think of a quarterback (leader) throwing a football to a star wide receiver (top producer) who is running in full stride.  Does he throw the ball where the receiver is at the moment he releases, or does he throw it where the receiver will be at the moment the ball arrives?  So why not cast team members into roles they will enjoy growing into rather than only contribute to with existing skills?  After all, skills can always be developed, right?

In my opinion, there’s no better stimulation for learning than to be cast into a role doing what you love.  It’s a minor investment a business can make to ensure its future success – pay a little in immediate productivity to gain tremendous upside once the skills catch up.  Contract work can always fill the gap for the mundane static jobs that still need to be done.

Obviously, there are limits to everything.  Just like an average height person probably can’t play professional basketball at a high level, some personalities may not excel in certain future roles.  A seasoned leader who really pays attention should be able to mentor team members along these lines however.

What do you think?  As a leader, how much time and effort do you invest in ensuring your team members’ roles are aligned with their skills and aspirations?  Are you willing to invest in future development while you wait for skills to mature?

About Leo Reiter

Gen-X tech entrepreneur with over two decades in diverse fields of the software industry, and a passion for expressing myself to anyone who likes to listen
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