Whitney Johnson: Using Personal Disruption to Build an A-Team, Episode #27

The phrase “personal disruption” doesn’t sound very pleasant, but Whitney Johnson insists that it’s the only way we grow as individuals. We have to be placed outside the normal context of our existence in order to take on new challenges and grow as a person. She also says that disruption is a great tool to help managers and leaders assess potential team members and enable their personal growth and long-term loyalty to the company. I was so pleased with the conversation I had with Whitney on this episode. We dove into the reasons why personal disruption is so powerful, how managers can discover and encourage a “personal learning curve” for each team member, and the wonderful results of doing so – both for the company and for the employee.

Find a problem to solve in your organization instead of chasing the next promotion

The typical way to chart a career path is to apply for promotion after promotion, climbing the ladder in a not-so-pleasant competition with other team members. Whitney Johnson says that instead of chasing the next promotion, team members should get busy solving problems in their organizations. The kind of innovation, initiative, and creative skills that come to the surface in the attempt are exactly what managers are looking for, and will cause the person to stand out like a diamond against a dark backdrop. You can learn more about how personal disruption can be used as a catalyst for personal growth and career advancement by listening to this episode.

Managers: Use personal disruption to give your people Goldilocks assignments

You remember the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” right? The unforgettable line Goldilocks said over and over is, “It’s just right!” Whitney recommends that leaders find what she calls, “Goldilocks assignments” for team members – tasks or challenges that are not too hard and not too easy, but just right to challenge that particular team member toward growth and innovation. The company and the team member both win when a scenario like that plays out successfully. Discover how your team can grow through the utilization of disruptive practices like this, by listening to my conversation with Whitney Johnson.

The idea of a static job description is archaic. Team members need a learning curve plan

We’ve all been handed a job description upon applying for a new position – and it’s good to have an idea of the tasks and responsibilities expected in a particular role. But the idea that jobs remain static is one that needs to die. Instead of holding team members to static job descriptions, today’s leaders need to benchmark the abilities of team members, then in light of the team’s “why” and the team member’s reasons for choosing to work there, set expectations based on that particular team member’s projected learning curve and provide incentives of new opportunities when the current challenges are overcome. It’s an amazing way of challenging team members and moving the company forward that you’ll hear about on this episode.

Hire for potential not for proficiency

Too often leaders are looking to fill positions with the person who has everything in hand, completely buttoned-down and ready to go. But when we do that we are missing diamonds in the rough, people who are able to take on the challenges set before us with help, time, and opportunity. Whitney Johnson says that managers and leaders need to hire for potential, looking for the character traits, attitudes, and basic skills that might allow a person to grow into a role rather than looking only for those who appear able to master it from the outset. Doing so enables teams to grow together, building relationships with each other as they build individual competence. It’s an approach that uses personal disruption to provide job satisfaction for team members and long-term stability for the organization. You won’t want to miss Whitney’s insights into the power of personal disruption, so set aside the time to listen to this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] Leaders are willing to walk their talk and engender trust. They enable others to be their best self
  • [2:44] The essence of Whitney’s new book, “Build An A-Team”
  • [4:17] Would you take the job? A scenario from Whitney about the importance of disruption
  • [6:50] The 7 step learning curve: What do employees need to learn to grow?
  • [11:17] Designing jobs to maximize engagement and learning
  • [17:12] Is it possible that we do a better job with team members who are virtual?
  • [18:12] Whitney’s tips for building an A-team

Resources & People Mentioned

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