The Jackass Factor

By Brian Schwartze, Kinzler Construction Services V.P. of Sales & Marketing
(Used with permission from “The Intersection: Brian’s Schwartze Blog”

Use this equation to measure the impact of an individual’s attitude on your entire team. (Talent + Intellect) x (Leadership) x (Attitude) =

First, the back story:

When searching for a winning formula, football coaches know the sum of the parts does not equal the whole.  In other words, 2 + 2 does not equal 4.  Creating a winning formula is much more difficult than just assembling talented individual pieces.  The most talented team does not always win the game.  Why?

Recently, we had a leadership training event at Kinzler Construction Services (my team).   The theme of the training was accountability.  We have several team members who were new to leadership roles.  I spent time thinking about how to best explain the impact of an individual team members’ attitude on the entire team. 

I asked our leaders to think about a few key members of their teams and rate them on a 1-10 scale as we worked through an exercise.  To see a portion of that video click below.

(Talent + Intellect) x (Leadership) x (Attitude) =

Next, a few questions:

I asked our team, is it possible that any of our team members have less than zero talent?  What about intellect? How about leadership?  They quickly agreed every team member rated higher than zero in all these areas.

But what about attitude?  Is it possible to have a negative attitude?  The answer, of course, was a resounding YES!

What is the impact to the equation if we use a scale of negative 10 to positive 10 to rank attitude?  We all agree an attitude can be negative, correct?  They quickly agreed it was logical to use a negative number measure the impact of attitude.

Now, the mathematical facts:

Any positive number multiplied by a positive number results in a positive number.  Any positive number multiplied by a negative number results in a negative number.

Any member of our team that has a positive attitude produces a positive result or what I refer to as a Net Contribution (NC).

Any member of our team that has a negative attitude produces a negative result, or what I refer to as a Jackass Factor (JF).

(T + I) x (L) x (A) = NC or JF

Finally, the call to action:

People who combine high Talent and Intellect with a negative Attitude produce a Jackass Factor.  Even worse is the cancerous impact of someone with high Leadership ability and a negative attitude.  The absolute worst is the person who is talented, smart and a great leader with a negative attitude.  Do the math!  These are the most dangerous people on your team.  The larger the Jackass Factor the greater the risk to your team health.

This is a very common leadership mistake.  Too often leaders think they “need” people with talent, intellect or leadership abilities, ignoring or tolerating a negative attitude.  Instead, they choose to spend their time and energy “fixing” people with low talent, intellect or leadership abilities.  After all, these options are easier then dealing with the 300 pound gorilla that is a negative attitude, but they won’t produce optimal results.

As the leader, take a long hard look at your team.  Then, chart the accountability path for turning your people with Jackass Factors into Net Contributors, or get them out of your locker room.  Not, when you can “afford to” or when you hit your next sales goal, get rid of them tomorrow!

In football we say, “you are either coaching it; or allowing  it to happen.”  If you have people with a negative attitude are you coaching it or allowing it to happen?  Is it time for you to step up and lead?  Or will you continue to allow people with Jackass Factors to erode your culture?

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