A New Year Exercise

Take ten minutes right now to do this exercise. 

First, imagine something has happened and you won’t be in your office for the next six months.  Then write a letter providing instruction and advice about what needs to be done during the time you’ll be gone.

Second, compare what you wrote to what you have already communicated to key people in your organization.  Ideally, you have already communicated these things.  If you haven’t, schedule when you’ll do the communication.

Manipulation Instead of Commitment

Commitment is a hugely important part of implementing strategy.  It cannot be achieved through manipulation.  I had a client who prided himself as leading by consensus, yet he wondered why his executive team wasn’t fully committed.  In his mind, consensus meant getting everyone to buy-in to a direction or decision he had already made.  Fair enough.  The problem was that he would not tell the group that he had already made the decision.  Instead, he would present the problem, ask for input and discussion, all the while steering the group to the outcome he wanted in advance.  He called that consensus.  His people said it was readily transparent and that they felt manipulated and disrespected – not a good way to build commitment.

There are only about five different leadership styles, any one of which will help build commitment, but manipulation isn’t one of them.  Is your leadership style building the level of commitment you need?

Investing in Weakness vs. Strength

Just as you cannot make an organization perform well by focusing on weaknesses, the same is true of individuals.  The best sports coaches focus on players’ strengths.  This is true whether the coach takes a positive approach like Tony Dungy, who encouraged the right behaviors, or negative coaching approaches such as Bobby Knight who worked to drive out undesirable behaviors.  In either case, they did not try to improve weaknesses, but focused instead on improving strengths.   Organizations spend a far greater share of training and development dollars on weak performers and relatively little on accelerating the development of high performers.  If this is a problem in your organization, the first step is to question your overall approach to people development.  The second step is to look at how you select new hires, how you match their skills to jobs, and how you spend your development budget.