Machen MacDonald: LIFT your people |

Machen MacDonald: LIFT your people

Machen MacDonald

As a strategic business coach to small business owners, the number one thing I hear from business owners is they are concerned with and struggle to do better at effectively managing and inspring their people.

Happy workers are productive. Happy and productive workers are loyal. Happy, productive, and loyal workers are profitable. This is why business owners are in business. No matter what business you are in, it may be a numbers game, but it is always a people business.

If you’re a business owner and you are looking to grow your business, you must grow your people and they will grow the business. The way you do that is to L.I.F.T. them to their potential.

Everybody has their own capacity, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When people are performing at their capacity. I.e., doing what they know they are capable of doing, they feel good about themselves. To the degree there is a gap between their capacity and performance there is unrest. When they are not doing their best, they know and feel they could have done better. They develop angst wondering if they are wasting or missing opportunity and perhaps jeopardizing their employment. Deep down, people want to do their best.

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As a leader, it is our job to hold our people accountable. I believe, more importantly, it is a leader’s job to hold their people capable. Help them grow and expand so they feel good about themselves and their ability to perform. Help them build their self-efficacy which is science speak for – a person’s belief in their ability to perform or succeed in specific situations.

To affect self efficacy and optimize potential in your people remember to L.I.F.T. them up.

Learn and develop

People want to learn how to be more productive. Doing things better and faster is rewarding. Increasing their knowledge and capacities provides the feeling of growth. People are always looking for ways to grow. This is accomplished by learning new things and putting them into practice. If people don’t feel like they are learning and developing their intellectual capital and skills, they feel stuck. It’s just a matter of time before stuck people leave or end up costing the company in some way.

Inspiring income potential

People have to feel they are adequately compensated for their contribution. It is up to the leader to quantify the value. If resources are limited, it’s also the leader’s role to be creative with compensation. There are bonus structures, deferred compensation options, and various incentives of time and time off.


As a leader we must help our people see that their professional future is bigger than their past. People whose past is bigger than their future become depressed. Depressed people move on to brighter options. Help them see their bigger brighter future by developing a professional development track with them. This has to do with helping them align their professional development with their values of what’s important to them that also serve the organization. The simple question, “What do you want for yourself professionally and personally?” is a great start. From there, set milestones to be achieved and tie them to income, titles, and other incentives to be achieved. A bright future gives direction and purposes.

Tap into their strengths

Everybody has unique abilities. Find out what those are and position people in your organization so they can optimize their zone of brilliance. Their zone is made up of what they are good at doing, what they love to do and what they are profitable and/or productive at doing. Flex your organizational chart to assure that the title and position leverages and magnifies your people’s zones of brilliance. If you have a duck, squirrel and a fish on your team and the particular objective is to climb the tree, you wouldn’t waste time training and encourage the fish to get the job done. You would go to the squirrel.

This week, take some time to connect with your people and discover their zone of brilliance and assure they feel like they are learning, feeling inspired by their compensation, can see a compelling future with the organization, and are tapping into their strengths. It may take some time to help balance them all out and that’s what great leaders do.

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000.

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