bell curve

You receive a call from your partner letting you know that your client liked the proposal and wants your team to start the engagement next week. The partner tells you, “Great job!”.

You wrap up the Executive Committee presentation and your boss’s sponsors say, “Keep up the good work”.

We’ve all experienced these thrilling moments of success. Whether related to work, sports, a personal interest, family, these are the feel-good times that validate all the effort – and often, sacrifice – that we’ve invested to prepare for that moment.

Years ago, I attended an executive training program at the University of Virginia and listened to a professor describe a paradigm for personal and team success that I’ve shared many times. He postulated that leaders and employees need to follow the bell curve:

The majority of our time, we’ll be “Back Stage” – handling our day-to-day responsibilities and getting things done. This is the typical peak of the bell shape.

A small, intentional portion of our time needs to be “Off Stage” – recharging our batteries by taking a vacation or otherwise doing things that we enjoy.

Another small, equally intentional portion of our time needs to be “On Stage” – where we present our hard work to the audience and feel the limelight. The resulting applause gives us the enthusiasm to sustain top performance while we’re back stage – and the motivation to prepare for our next stage appearance.

Kept in balance, this bell curve sparks creativity, team work, quality of life, and productivity.

As leaders and managers, we need to give our employees the opportunity to be on stage. Instead of leading the discussion during a senior meeting, bring a team member who’s working hard on the project and let him kick-off the presentation. Encourage your employee to hold a brown bag session for the organization to share her expertise with colleagues. Stop the executive in the hallway and introduce your employee by highlighting what he/she is doing to help the executive. You get it…

Go, Cavaliers!