Many of you have heard of this leadership story.

A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch.

When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”

A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I’m building a cathedral!”

Three people – three different attitudes – all doing the same job. Which of the three describes your people?

Do you want them to be cathedral builders?
That requires an unwavering commitment by you to bring out the best in your staff. Here’s how:

1. Connect with everyone who reports to you on a daily basis.
You my say that’s impractical or impossible. I say that’s the job of a manager – to get things done through others. Your role is to listen, engage, motivate and challenge your people, not to simply manage tasks, paper or projects. With voice mails, e-mails, pagers, cellphones, etc. you can quickly check in to see how things are going and give a brief news or updates. Yes in person is great, but that’s not always necessary. It’s the frequency and the showing of interest that counts.

 2. Create an environment conducive to high performance.
If your people don’t show up for work or show up turned of or tuned out, you accomplish nothing. Achieving results is very important, but getting there should be energizing for everyone, not draining. Everyone should feel motivated to do their best. See yourself as a partner and a coach to your people and not only as their boss.

3. Spend more time with those individuals who are performing very well.
There is a tendency to spend less time with your top performers and more time with your poor or marginal performers. Not wise! What you want to avoid is to have your top performers thinking: “What do I have to do to get attention around here?” We know different people are motivated by different things. However everyone, including top performers, enjoy recognition for good work. So give it to them.

 4. Let your people know the value and contribution of their work.
Recognize that most people instinctively have a personal need to participate and contribute in their jobs in order to achieve personal pride and satisfaction. Give them the opportunity to show their abilities and help them clearly understand how they can return the organization’s investment in them. By doing this you build their pride in their job and the company.

 Smart Moves Tip:

Remember it’s not only the people above you – your boss and other key leaders – who get you promoted. It’s the people below you – the ones you manage and lead. How good a people manager are you?


Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge on theVoiceAmerica Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen. Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.