Making fish climb trees

Making fish climb trees

I’ll admit it, I’m guilty. Guilty of trying to make fish climb trees. If you’re not familiar with this reference, it comes from Albert Einstein’s quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I stumbled upon it again while surfing the newsfeed in LinkedIn and it hit me hard that I am guilty of doing just that in the working world.

You see, I’ve been in corporate America for quite a few years now and I’ll admit it’s changed the way I think and how I manage people. Like it or not, many people I’ve worked with and worked for in companies share common behaviors when it comes to managing their teams, speaking in meetings and speaking in clichés. Oh so many clichés!

When I came from the agency world to corporate America, it really stood out to me and now I catch myself saying things like “back of the napkin math” and “I’ll circle back with you on that.” Nothing wrong with it (in my opinion), until it comes to assessing talent. I’ve interviewed more people than I care to count and after about 15 minutes, it’s pretty clear to me if they’ll be a good “fit” for the company. What does that mean? Can I see this person presenting to executives? Do I think they can light a fire within themselves or their team if revenue is under pacing? Are they a bit too quirky for the team environment?

Then it hit me…hard. This way of thinking is NOT GOOD! I could be ruling out people who may have the next big idea to drive revenue and to acquire new customers because they don’t fit what I am accustomed to! This changed my way of thinking and managing completely.

A Common Goal Without a Singular Approach

It takes conscious effort and a variety of techniques, but I find that the more I change myself to work with intelligent and motivated people, regardless of their style, the more I get out of the members of my team and my colleagues. Also, it takes way more effort to try and get people to conform to a single approach. And you know what? The numbers and goals do follow.

I encourage you to take a look at your management style and who you gravitate toward in interviews. You may get more from your team and make better hiring choices when you challenge yourself to let a good catch do what they do best.