Contributor: Kari Heistad, Culture Coach International
Denied the job of engineer on a train in the 1860’s, due to being black, Elijah McCoy took a job stoking the train boiler and lubricating the steam cylinders, then McCoy used his Scottish engineering degree to create a self-regulating lubricator. Within ten years of his patent in 1872, the lubricator was used nationwide in steam engines, and in mines and factories.
The quality of his invention was so much better than the competition that people would ask if the lubricator was “the Real McCoy” - meaning the greatest quality. The railroad company disregarded McCoy’s skill as an engineer and in the process, lost out on the contribution that he could have made as an employee.
When working on teams, it is important not to look at limitations but instead at the potential contribution that each person can make – regardless of what kind of package that contribution comes in. This will allow you to maximize the skills and abilities of all team members.
Action Step: The next time you interact with someone, ask yourself, what potential contributions do I see this person?
- What could keep us from seeing potential in others?
- How can we support each other so that each person can contribute their best to the team?
- Whose idea is not being seen or heard?
- How can we work together as a team to create our own version of “the real McCoy?”
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