Coaching Styles, Part 3 – The Director

Last fall my wife accompanied me on a business trip to New York City. The trip took place a couple of months before our 20th anniversary so it just made sense to tack on a few days to celebrate. During the day, while I was involved in meetings, she explored the city – shopping and scouting out sites she wanted me to see. At night, after my work for the day was finished, we joined the rest of the tourists in taking in the various cultural experiences the city has to offer.

We are typically not advance planners. Most of our vacation plans are made on a whim and each day begins with someone asking “So, what are we going to do today?” But this time was different. Knowledge from my previous trips, combined with advice from friends and family, resulted in a short list of “must-do’s” while in the Big Apple. One of our destinations was the Gershwin Theater to see “Wicked.”

This is a fantastic show. Everything you see and hear from the minute the lights go down is superb – the sets, the music, and obviously the acting. But what you don’t see is just as important as what you do. Obviously, in a production this spectacular there are lots of things going on behind the scenes – and even more work taking place in advance of the show. And right in the middle of all the moving parts is The Director.

Staging a successful venture, whether it is a theater production, a symphony performance or a business, is the job of the Director. While the Visionary creates and communicates the overall vision, the Director must turn that vision into a reality. It is their responsibility to translate the big picture into specific job roles, executable steps and timelines.

In its simplest form, the role of the Director can be boiled down into two words: delegation and accountability. The Director assigns the work and then makes sure the work gets done. Obviously, things are a bit more complicated than that, so let’s look at the concept of delegation a little more closely.

The first step is finding the right person (or people) for each role. Directors must understand the core competencies required for the each position. Different jobs require different skills and abilities. The role of cashier has a different set of associated tasks, and necessary competencies, than the role of security guard. So Directors must know what abilities are needed for each job to be performed properly.

The Director must also be able to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the staff at his or her disposal. Since the cashier role involves interaction with customers, the Director knows that an outgoing personality and effective communication skills are necessary competencies. They therefore would not assign this role to someone who is introverted and uncomfortable engaging with others.

The Director also needs to know what motivates each employee and under which circumstances they work best. One person may be excited at the prospect of being given individual responsibility for a project while another may cringe at the though, preferring to work in a support role or as part of a team. By understanding the engagement needs of their staff members, the Director can then assign roles with the best interest of the team and the individuals in mind.

How well do you understand the core competencies needed for each of the roles you oversee? How well do you understand the abilities and motivators of your team members? And how successful are you at matching the right person with the right job?

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