Back in the late 1970’s, I was working in London as a junior marketing assistant for a very self important marketing manager. He had an arch enemy George Gardner, the sales director. Neither of them had much respect for each other but looking back I can now see things in another light.

George Gardner was funny, inspirational, charming, sensitive, hard working, caring and results driven. The marketing manager wasn’t. He spent most of his time trying to hang on to his position, regardless of the ridicule he received from almost everyone around him. To be honest he deserved more but that’s sometimes how it is when you have the wrong person in the right seat at the wrong time.

Back to George, he had the ability to identify underperforming individuals and offered them the chance to re-invent themselves. He did this on several occasions and when he died the church was full to over flowing with mourners paying their respects to a really remarkable man. I swore to myself there and then that I would try and do like George.

Now everyone has their own path and everyone has their own way of doing things but the achievements that I am most proud of in my career to date are not the successful construction of a sustainable company, or the books that I have had published or indeed the fees I have earned. It’s none of these things. It’s seeing people that I had once written off but given a second chance, develop, mature and achieve great things.

I have often thought, who would want to be a teacher, to stand in front of a classroom full of pubescent teenagers?  But then I think of the unique opportunity they have to make an impact on a young person’s life and how sometimes with just a few simple words, followed up with support and care, they can truly make a difference to a person’s entire life.  When you reflect on it, can there ever be anything more useful and satisfying?

I think, doing like George, is the best gift one can leave behind. I have never seen it written down in a Change Manager’s job description or assignment briefing, but it should be:

‘Identify underperforming employees and offer them a second chance. Give them a vision of another way and encourage them to follow it’.

Have a good week,

Harley

PS: If you are interested, you can read more about doing like George in my book ‘Making a Difference’