Michael Irvin Channels W. Edwards Deming?


So I'm watching SportsCenter and analyst Michael Irvin, former Cowboys wide receiver, is talking about Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and Wide Receiver / Attention Hound Terrell Owens.

I never expect any profound wisdom out of Irvin, so I was surprised when he says the following about how Parcells is handling T.O.:

“Great leadership is not handing everybody the same way. Great leadership is knowing what everybody is, who everybody is, and handling them accordingly.”

That completely reminded me of W. Edwards Deming and his leadership philosophy. Deming said:

“A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different.”

What I always took away from Deming was that a manager needs to understand basic human psychology, that different people are motivated by different things (such as pride, money, accomplishment, fear of failure, etc.). A good manager doesn't treat everyone the same (say, through the same extrinsic motivations or compensation plans). A good manager (or, a great leader) tries to understands what intrinsicly motivates each of his people and manages accordingly.

Is Irvin a student of Deming? Most likely, not. Do they both share the same “common sense?” Maybe.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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