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I have learned working with several clients over the past several years that some achieve operational excellence at a faster pace than others.  Here is what I have observed and experienced:

 

1) Achieving operational excellence is much like riding a bicycle. It has two components: the back wheel, which represents your management methodology, and the front wheel, which represents leadership and creating the environment for your associates to embrace the change.  The production associates drive the day to day operations, and the leadership role is to support and facilitate continuous improvement, including creativity and innovation.

 

2) The most important ingredient in realizing this vision is a winning team. This requires all the managers to be on board and committed and mutually accountable to making it happen. Senior leaders must make sure that everyone belongs on the team and is in the right role.  Having the right people is a company's number one ingredient to achieving success. 

 

3) Once you have the right people, then the managers must have the mindset that "the people doing the job know how to do it best".  This process may take several months as they learn to give up control. At the end of the day, effective management is the key to associate engagement.

 

4) Finally, the sooner you can get production associates involved, the sooner new leaders emerge and the flywheel accelerates.  Obtain short term wins quickly and start in an area where success is guaranteed. 

The difference between leading and managing is even more important in today's rapidly changing world.  Imagine yourself riding a bicycle.  The back wheel in this metaphor relates to management - organizing, planning, scheduling, forecasting, measuring, and budgeting.  These activities are crucial to organizational movement and efficiency.  They also have their limitations and they, as Jack Welch says, "are only as good as far as they go; leadership is the way to win." Management, in our bicycle analogy, is like riding a unicycle - forwards, backwards, sideways, and in circles - struggling to not fall over. If this is all you focus on, you become a DOER and deal only with STUFF.  There is not any direction.  The front wheel represents leadership - direction, aligning, empowering, coaching, innovation, creativity, risk, trust, and growth.  The common denominator - people focus and activities.  Leadership, from Latin, means journey.  Where are you and your team going, how are you going to get there, why do I want to be a part, what will I experience and be able to contribute.  Out in front of the bicycle is your vision.  Putting it all together - your Vision inspires you, leadership guides you and management moves you! 
 
Have a great journey!
 

Leadership, Effectiveness and the Three Constants in Life

Effectiveness can be defined as getting what you want and getting it over and over again. To do this, we all need to be aware of the playing field and the constants we must recognize, honor, and embrace.

There are three constants in life: principles, change, and choice.

First let’s look at principles. These are natural laws with predictable consequences such as gravity, time and the seasons. There are also social principles. The key to principles is that while we control our choices, the principles determine the outcome. For example, if you choose to jump off a building, gravity determines the outcome. Principles are impersonal, objective, external to ourselves, and act with or without us being aware of them. The key is to know what is at work and use to it to get what you want. There are no short cuts.

The second constant is change. In his book, “Grow or Die,” George Ainsworth Land concludes that those that survive -- individuals, species, civilizations, products, businesses, or industries -- are the ones that adapt. They recognize something external to them has changed and they swim with the current to transform If you choose to ignore the change, then eventually you die – just ask Eastman Kodak and General Motors.

The third constant is choice: we are not born winners; we are not born losers, we are born choosers – the greatest gift humans have in this life. This gift allows us to achieve our vision, determine our destiny, and lead a happy, productive life. There is a catch: with this choice comes responsibility and, yes, sometimes great success, but also sometimes great failure. Once you accept ownership for your choices, you will no longer be a victim nor be constrained by the weaknesses of other people.

Leadership, from the Latin, means journey. I define it as the ability to influence others to willingly accomplish the path ahead. Recognize and embrace the three constants knowing there are challenges. Use them to guide and navigate in this thing we call life. When you come up short, reflect back on the constants – there is your answer.

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The Present

In a university commencement addrss several years ago, Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises, spoke of the relation of work to one's other commitments:

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls: Work, family, health, friends and spirit. You’re keeping all of these in the air and you will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it’ll bounce back; but the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, damaged, or even shattered. They’ll never be the same. You must understand that and strive for the balance in your life.”

He then gives several suggestions for how to do this:

 

  • Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

  • Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.

  • Don't be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

  • Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

  • Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

  • Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

  • Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

  • Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

  • Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

  • Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

  • Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

 

And remember,

"Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That's why we call it the present."

Posted on in The Latest

bigstock-Winning-team-5219372

In my 40 years of corporate experience and owning my own business, I've found that he most important ingredient in a company's success is having a "winning team".

 

Jim Collins, in his book "Good to Great", states that the first component is "first who, then what". Once you are clear about your Vision and Strategy, and you have buy-in, then it is paramount to ensure your leaders -- especially the core group -- have the desire and capability to make the journey.

 

Generally, in any group, 20 percent are stars, 70 percent are in the herd, and10 percent you cannot "get to come out of the dog house". You must deal with these individuals in the "dog house" and quickly. Gallup research shows that if they become disengaged, they will drain energy from the group and bring everyone down. The key – address it and make your moves before proceeding!

Four Characteristics of High Performers:

 

1) Open to feedback – you solicit it and listen. You do not always agree with it or necessarily change, but you ask several open ended questions to dig deeper to understand and find context.

 

2) Constant learner – you have internalized the principle that "no one knows everything about anything". Why? Because situations change. Your job is to "connect the dots" and make the connections between what you learn and how you can apply it. Continuous learning also makes you humble and curious with the expectation and enthusiasm to discover something new.

 

3) NOT arrogant – Being arrogant is a major derailer and people around you can detect it fairly quickly. Arrogance is thinking you are the smartest person in the world and letting everyone know that you are through your statements and behaviors.

 

4) Adaptive – probably the most important of the four. Adaptability is recognizing that things have changed, there is a problem, and you need to adjust to meet the goal. You know you are not adaptive when you are always a "victim", reactive, and not changing your behavior to either solve the problem or accomplish your goal.

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