You Can’t Fly with the Eagles if You’re Working with Turkeys

With the Spring turkey hunting season nearly upon us, it reminded me of one of my Dad’s favorite sayings.  After he sold his business and retired, we often discussed the business challenges I was facing as I moved up the ‘corporate ladder.’  When I assumed the role as President of a division of an outdoor company, he told me that in this role, nearly half of my time would be spent on managing ‘people priorities.’

Specifically getting the right people on the team, putting them in a position to be successful, providing direction and support, coaching and mentoring them, and, in some cases, replacing them.  At first, I was a bit skeptical that nearly half of my time would be spent in this area.  But, as was most often the case, he was right.

One evening over dinner (they actually call it ‘supper’ in the South), we were discussing some of the challenges I was experiencing with two of our primary vendors and one of the key managers on my leadership team.  At the time, I was very focused on trying to ‘fix’ the issues with the under-performing vendors and putting a lot of time and energy into mentoring and coaching the executive who was clearly in over his head.

This went on for a few months and I was becoming very frustrated by the lack of progress on all fronts.  The next time I saw my Dad, he asked me how things were going.  When I told him I was working hard to address these issues which were negatively impacting the business he pulled off his glasses, rubbed the bridge of his nose and said ‘Son, if you want to fly with the eagles, you can’t work with turkeys.’ He went on to say that, at some point, you have to recognize that sometimes a job simply becomes too big for the capabilities of a given vendor or individual.  And the quicker you recognize that reality and move on to a more capable resource, the better off everyone is. He highlighted the importance of alignment and ‘fit.’  He also emphasized that the quicker you can surround yourself with the best talent available – be that internal or external resources, the quicker you will reach your performance goals. 

In the highly competitive world we live in today, getting the right people on your team that have the skills and experience to perform at a high level in a rapidly changing environment should be a top priority.  

BTW, I have nothing against turkeys. In fact, I’m looking forward to chasing these beautiful wild birds come mid-April.  I just don’t want to work with them… 

Jim Clark

Vice President, Professional Services

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