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By Darryl Stewart
For a leader, chess is better than checkers

For a leader, chess is better than checkers

Great leaders treat their jobs more like playing chess than playing checkers.

What do I mean by that?

In chess, the pieces are different and do different things. In checkers, the pieces are all the same. People are like chess pieces: wonderfully unique with distinct skills and attributes.

Leaders who take the time to understand what each of their staff loves to do and what they loathe to do – and use that information wisely – are the best leaders long-term. They are the chess players who understand the roles each “piece” is suited to play. They will always be the better leaders than those who play checkers and treat each “piece” the same.

I have heard it said that if someone is working:

  • at things they feel good about;
  • with a team of people they like and respect; and
  • with a leader who they believe cares about them,

then there is at least a 40% discretionary effort boost that they will put into their work. Playing chess instead of checkers gives you, as a leader, two of the three main ingredients required to get this boost in effort. I think taking the time to know the rules by which each member of your team plays is well worth the effort. You will get the effort boost and you will understand and appreciate the unique gifts each team member has. In my experience, it feels a whole lot better to operate this way.

Want a little more on this theme? These articles go much deeper on the subject:

How to get more output from your team while increasing their happiness

Can anyone do anything?

Great managers watch like hawks

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