Were They Always Dead Wood « Leadership Freak – Dan Rockwell 4

Do you hire stupid people – or do they just get stupid after working for you? Your role as a manager is to teach someone else what you know. If you aren’t doing that – then you’re not managing – you’re just telling. There are people in your organization who aspire to take on more duties and responsibilities (Achievers) and there are those in your organization who don’t (Sustainers). They both play a very important role in your success as a manager and the overall success of your organization. (If you google sustainers and achievers you’ll come up with some 1,240 results) You need to know the difference between both.

According to Dr. Adele Scheel PhD., a pioneering career strategist and coach, our world of working divides into two distinct groups – Sustainers – those who – for the most part – don’t aspire to take on any more responsibility than what they currently have. They prefer to stay under the radar. They show up to work on time, punch in, do what is expected of them, and then punch out and go home. To Sustainers – work is a pay cheque not a career. Achievers on the other hand are those people who aspire to take on more responsibility just for the fun of learning. Achievers see it as the path to advancement. Achievers want to get noticed. They understand that to get promoted you must first be promotable. (You need to know who your achievers are so you know who to delegate to)

Jack Welch – GE’s legendary Ex-Chairman and CEO had an interesting philosophy when it came to his employees and managers. Managers – as part of their yearly department review – had to promote the top 20% of their staff (achievers) – they got to keep 70% (sustainers) and they had to terminate the bottom 10% (dead wood) What are you doing in your organization to clear out the dead wood? Whether you care to admit it or not – the bottom 10% are detrimental to your business. What does it say about your organization if your clients have to deal with your dead wood? I don’t have an issue with sustainers as long as they continue to do the job that is expected of them. I have issues with managers who allow complacency to set in and are satisfied with less than a stellar performance. Perhaps it’s time to do some tree trimming. But trust me – I’d start with the manager.

Great article by Dan Rockwell – Leadership Freak – on the subject of dead wood which was inspired by a conversation he had with one of my heroes – Tom Peters. Enjoy 🙂

Were They Always Dead Wood « Leadership Freak.


  1. The article “Were They Alwasy Dead Wood <<Leadership Freak – Dan Rockwell" highlights management issues I was unaware. Also, although those in the business world might know the issues intrinsically, it is helpful to have them enumerated.


  2. Hi Brian! I agree, as a manager you need to train your people correctly. I have practiced this for a long while. I had some people tell me that the reason they did not to share information or delegate was fear of them losing their own job. I guess these ones where the group that falls between sustainers and achievers? What do you think?


  3. Jack’s 20-70-10 theory forces managers to share – to delegate. If they aren’t developing their people – they aren’t doing their job. A manager who won’t delegate for fear of losing their own job is dead wood. TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More. If you don’t delegate you are robbing someone else their opportunity to grow. – Great chatting Liz.


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