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Sometimes we just need to keep it simple. Office issues and people development have become complex topics and most leaders are merely trying to keep their heads above water. Then we throw in authenticity or tell leaders to be even more authentic and the wheels fall off. Think of what you did as a kid when the training wheels came off. You wobbled and put your foot down and then you practiced. One area in which leaders can demonstrate an authentic interest is in the needs of those they lead. One area in which being human means simply saying: “I don’t know how to figure this out, but I’m willing to practice”, couldn’t be easier. In fact, think of the games you played as a kid. Remember Go Fish? That’s how simple meeting the needs of those you lead can become. Let’s play with this for a minute.

1.      The Game

Go Fish! is a children’s game played with any deck of cards or one specifically made for this purpose. Much like your team, you’ve either gotten a group assembled from all over the place or hand-picked a portion of them and believe this team to be specifically designed for your desired outcome. But then, just as in the rules of the game, you have to find matches to the hand you’ve been dealt and the rest of what is available in your deck, one player at a time. At work, you have to find matches in projects, skill sets, and motivations, one employee at a time, to the resources, budget, and skill sets you have for developing others. As a leader, you Go Fish!, so to speak, daily. But, are you playing to win? It depends on how many matches you make.

2.      The Match Ups

This kid’s card game requires you to find four of kind of each card in your hand. You start by asking the other players if they have a 9, for example, which would match one of the cards you’re holding. If they do, you take it. If they don’t you lose a turn. Equate this to meeting the needs of those you lead by revealing a project. Ask if there’s interest and a specific set of skills you’re seeking. If there is, you have a match. If there isn’t, move on to someone else and repeat your question. Each time you find a match, you increase the employee’s opportunity to grow, develop, and gain confidence. You also learn vital information to ensure you have a good match between the employee and the responsibilities of the position, known as alignment. The four recommended areas in which matches are most valuable are technical skills, people skills, leadership traits, and the ability to collaborate, thereby strengthening your team in its entirety.

3.      Winning the Game

The way you win Go Fish! is by finding assignments, tasks, classes, projects, special assignments, or even mentoring opportunities in which each team member or employee can participate. Find matches for each team member in ways to increase their skills in the recommended four areas (or four of your own choosing) and you win the game! Then, of course, just like when kids play this kind of card game, one winning hand will likely result in the question “Can we play again?” and the answer is yes. Then it will be time to find four new areas in which each team member can experience growth.

Employees and leaders have multiple needs when it comes to fulfillment at the office. The trick is unless we simplify the process, the endeavor to uncover those needs, make sure they are correct, and then seek out ways to fill them, all the while wondering if that is even our responsibility, can be completely overwhelming. Overwhelming tasks tend to get put off until we have time to get to them. When does that happen when you’re a leader? Keep it simple. Follow the process and follow the simple system. Meet the needs of those you lead and watch them show more motivation, appear much more engaged, demonstrate signs of fulfillment and maybe even initiative, and stick around, with less complaining, far longer you may have imagined.

Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?

Each Monday Moment shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic. This week, as we wind down this month’s focus on amplifying your humanity, your challenge is to implement some of the rules of Go Fish!

  1. Determine the four areas in which you’d like to find matches and see employee growth
  2. Ask each team member if they have interest and the skills for at least one of your four areas.
  3. Keep fishing…er…matching.

You’re on your way and you’re ready to become that better leader by Monday.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!


Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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