Keep a Steady Hand!

Forget the management fad du jour! Much of which is “new”, or “just being discovered”, is basically a reframing of best practices that have been around a long time. Leadership, at its essence, is very, very simple. Engage people to collectively work toward a common goal. That’s it.

However, we humans are easily distracted by bright shiny objects – the latest article or blog or conversation about “I tried this and it really worked!” And since we’re not getting the results we want, that we know our organization is capable of, we try the latest and greatest.

Unfortunately, flitting from one management fad to the next is not only ineffective, it is actually detrimental to the organization. That’s because people become numb and jaded. They know that the previous fads have not produced the stellar results that were touted at the kickoff. “Been there, done that, and there was no t-shirt. It was another mirage.” And they know that if they successfully ignore this one, another one will take its place in the near future. So they basically retire in place, doing a decent job, and giving up on any effort to make a real, long-lasting improvement.

The only truly effective way to have an organization improve is to do the fundamentals:

1. Create, WITH your employees, a clear, compelling vision of the future, and how your organization can make that future happen. The best way to do this is to ask employees how your products and services can make a better world for their loved ones (children, grandchildren, etc.). This type of vision will indeed engage employees and ignite their creativity and passion.

2. Keep that vision foremost in all decisions at all levels. The vision will help align decisions at all levels, and will minimize inter-departmental differences.

3. Then, keep on encouraging and assisting employees as they strive to attain that vision. Understand that the real purpose of management is to provide resources so the employees can do their jobs the best possible way. “Command and control” approaches remove the ownership and passion from the employees; empowering employees to be great creates the foundation for breakthrough results.

What’s your reaction? Have you tried this? How has it worked?

Gary Langenwalter

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