What qualities make an A Player immediately stand out?
Some qualities that immediately stand out for an A Player are as follows: accountability for results and integrity. Pay attention to the meetings you are in over the next week and notice how many employees and managers make excuses for missing goals, or do not take ownership or accountability for solving a problem. This is why the characteristics of A Players are so important. The A Players are also scrupulous in their integrity. Many people say one thing and then never follow through (or worse yet, tell a lie). A Players, on the other hand, have integrity— they consider someone not following through on their commitment as dishonest behavior.
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -John Wooden
I love your “line of choice” image. When a leader sees someone falling into the trap of blaming and making excuses, what does she do to get the player back on track?
In our cultures everyone is trained on The Line of Choice. They’ll politely call out their teammate and ask, “Isn’t that comment below the line?” or “What does an above-the-line response look like?” Or they’ll use the ABC vernacular and ask, “What would an A Player say?” or “That sounds a lot like B Player talk to me.”
Copyright Rick Crossland. Used by permission.
How to Motivate an A Player
What motivates an A Player?
One thing great about A Players is the leader does not have to motivate them. In fact, they are self-motivated. A Players truly work for passion. They find purpose in the process itself. They are not coin operated. They focus on satisfying customers, making better products, and you know what? The money follows! In fact it flows much more freely than if they had focused on the money.
“A Players are self-motivated, work for passion, and find purpose in the process itself.” -Rick Crossland
Throughout the book, you reference ethics, morals, and character. You also talk about leaders with some big personal failings. Why do so many people fall into these traps? How do you guard against it?
So many people fall into poor ethics and moral character for a few reasons. One is that their environment lets them get away with it. I’d recommend you put your antenna up this week and see how many times people in your organization tell and get away with white lies or half-truths. Odds are you will be startled by what you find. Now the question is, are you holding them accountable to clean up their act? The other root cause is that people suffer from hubris. Many folks just don’t think the rules apply to them, or they think they won’t get caught.
The way to guard against weak ethical and moral character is to build a culture where there is transparency to our actions. Societal ethics are becoming more blurred by the day. Make the adage by Aldo Leopold, “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal,” part of your culture’s DNA. Build your systems so someone is watching and holding others accountable. Finally, the leader sets the tone for the ethical mores of your organization. Part ways with leaders with shaky ethics.
You’re flipping channels on the television when all of a sudden you land on a game show. You hear the crowd shouting answers. The person playing the game is trying to answer the host of the show, hoping to win big. In the background you can see a gleaming new car.
You don’t intend to watch, but you want to see what happens. The contestant squints, grimaces, and tentatively answers.
Almost instantaneously you hear a loud buzzer going off. The obnoxious sound signals the end of the dream.
Some people seem to wait in the wings as if watching a game show. Whatever you do, whatever you say, they are sitting in judgment. They wait for the opportunity to hit the buzzer, to declare you wrong, to declare “game over.”
Do you know someone like that?
You never hear a word of encouragement. You never hear a positive word. It’s not that it is hard to elicit a positive response; it’s impossible.
But they are quick to point out a misspelling. They are fast hitting reply and telling you how disappointed they are in something.
I once knew someone who was apt at pointing out what was wrong. He was in my office, complaining about someone. My advice to him was, “Assume the positive. Give the person the benefit of the doubt. Ask some questions. Don’t be so quick to condemn and complain.”
“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” –Stephen Covey
John G. Miller is a world authority on personal accountability. He is a frequent keynote speaker and the author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch and Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional. He is also the co-author of the brand new Parenting the QBQ Way. He is founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development firm based in Denver, CO. Its mission is “Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value.” He and his wife, Karen, have been married for thirty-three years. They have seven children and two grandchildren.
Procrastinating, whining, blaming, deflecting, playing the victim, entitlement. I guess I can start out by blaming you for removing all excuses! If you take all these away, then what are we left with?
A better person. The humanness in all of us leads us to fall into these traps, but they are costly on many levels. It is more difficult for me to serve others, grow myself, reach objectives, and simply be outstanding when I engage in these traps. We at QBQ Inc. have discovered these traps can be eliminated by using the tool we call The Question Behind the Question – the QBQ. The QBQ enables us to practice personal accountability and when we do, we are better in all areas of life.
You’ve worked with organizations all over the world. Often when you’re called in, the culture is not at its finest. How do you assess the state of accountability within a culture?
We listen. Our words represent our inner thinking and attitude, so when we hear people asking the wrong questions – we call them Incorrect Questions (IQs) – like “When will that department do its job right?” “Who dropped the ball?” and “Why don’t I get more coaching?” then we know there is a lack of personal accountability within the culture. The myth is, “There are no I’s in team.” There are definitely “I’s” in every single team everywhere, and when the I’s practice personal accountability, the team can do great things.