Nick Saban, head football coach at Alabama, recently used the phrase ‘capability gap’ in place of ‘potential’ during an interview. I thought it was a brilliant delineation from the typical answer around under achievement.
Saban points out that people often discuss other’s potential in an effort to help move them forward. This is typically a conversation with few actionable points for true growth. Saban chooses to discuss a player’s capability gap.
“The capability gap is what you are capable of, relative to what you are doing. People should be aware of that.” Saban counters.
He adds, "I think if you understood the truth about that, you can actually take information that can help you sort of close that gap, which is, hopefully, if you are a competitor and you want to do well in the world, that's something you should be interested in doing."
Put in this context, it’s hard to argue against his perspective.
Why Should We Care?
Viewing improvement through the lens of a capability gap brings light to the growth mindset all leaders would like to drive through their team members. The focus can be directed at narrowing the gap rather than realizing one’s potential.
I see it as more actionable, more real.
There are specific things each team member could do in order to shrink their capability gap. All are different and require unique actions, but all can be intentionally pursued.
The belief and hope it communicates is palpable, while not dismissing the gritty facts. We have capabilities; however, they’re not what they could be, should be, or will be. We have work to do.
Providing feedback to those around us that serves as a jumpoff point for progress is a big deal for leaders. We often go too far in trying to spare feelings that the truth becomes diluted or even obscured. I think that is exactly what the phrase capability gap can help us with
I love the approach when helping others, but it may be even more impactful when it’s directed inward and asked to one’s self:
Where are my capability gaps as a Father? Husband? Friend? Leader?
I know that leads me to some answers that ignite an urgency to change.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Like any good idea, it’s only as useful as you make it. Here are a few ways I’m going to try to implement the ‘capability gap’ into our teams.
Our capability gap, and our team’s capability gap, is a powerful place to look for improvement and growth. Knowing the gap will never close completely, the pursuit of reducing it is the progress that provides fulfillment and accomplishment to those seeking excellence.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.