You have to think about a lot of things. You daily task list may be long and detailed or limited and general. But you have a lot to think about.
Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard conducted research to determine the types of thinking leaders and managers do. Then, once the types were defined, they plotted them out to determine who did which type of thinking and what that indicated about their roles.
They discovered that leaders and managers think about:
Concepts – understanding the organization, department, or business as a whole. They seek to discover how their work and their role fit into the overall organization. Most importantly, they think about how to keep vision alive and vibrant and to insure that all that goes on does so according to that vision.
Human interaction and motivation – how to best understand the people with whom they work. They know that people are not machines and that each responds to opportunity and challenge differently. Motivation is a purely personal response which demands that leaders and managers possess the ability to discern the dynamics that are at play and know what to do.
Technical tasks and methodology – People need to be trained. They must have certain skills for certain jobs. Job schedules and quality must be maintained while using safe practices and safe equipment. Widgets have to be made from whatzits so someone has to consider how that happens, by what process, and in what order.
Hersey and Blanchard also discovered that the mix and blend of thinking differs depending upon the leader’s or managers position in the organization. Lower level leaders and managers have a greater responsibility to consider technical tasks and methodology. The higher up the scale one progresses the more one’s thinking transitions from tasks and methodology to concepts. Predictably, everyone at every level thinks about the human side of things at about the same amount. They diagramed it like this:
Where do you fit?
So, we can reverse engineer this to discover where we fit. The more we are responsible to think about concepts and the implementation of those concepts, the higher up we sit on the management scale. So the obvious conclusion is this ‘ what are you responsible to think about and what does that reveal about where you are in the organization? Then, there is one more thing I suggest you consider. That is, where would you like to be? Are you feeling comfortable and fulfilled where you are? If you’re stressed out much of the time, one must ask why? If it is due to a bad fit, if you are a concepts thinker stuck in a technical thinking position, stress will result. The reverse it also true.
Think about this over the weekend. Next week I will discuss how to find your place.
The guest speaker was seated on the stage, ready to deliver his keynote address. On his right sat the coordinator of the event, the person responsible for pulling all the many strands together to create a worthwhile encounter for speakers and participants alike. On his left sat one of the other speakers, a man who was known for his mystical, creative nature.
For several minutes the guest speaker engaged in close conversation with the coordinator who, without complaining, detailed the challenges he’d faced as administrator. He listed the many decisions to be made, the many components to secure, the many people to manage. As he concluded, the keynote speaker turned to the man on his left, the mystical sort of fellow.
“Isn’t this just wonderful,” he said, “how these things just magically come together.”
Two entirely different perspectives, one from a leader and manager, the other from, well, from someone who obviously is not a manager or leader.
All who lead, all who work in the trenches, wish there was a magic word, an abracadabra sort of word we could pronounce that would take what we’ve spoken and make it a reality.
The etymology of “abracadabra” is by no means precise, but in the Hebrew rendition of the word, it means “it came to pass as it was spoken.” The Aramaic root is quite similar. So, for the purposes of the topic under discussion today, something in that general meaning will do.
I’ve been writing and emphasizing the leader’s role in defining and articulating vision for the group. It is incumbent upon the person in charge to speak forth what the future will be like. This is the very incarnation of “vision.”
But there is no magic work to suddenly and effortlessly make it “come to pass as it is spoken.”
But there is a magic word to make it happen; one word that will indeed make your vision a reality.
That word is “planning.”
The first in the POTCC mantra – Plan, Organize, Train, Control, Coordinate – planning is the one thing that keeps a vision from being nothing more than a fantasy.
I could compose my own definition of the word, but the one offered by the BusinessDictionary.com works very well.
“A basic management function involving formulation of one or more detailed plans to achieve optimum balance of needs or demands with the available resources. The planning process (1) identifies the goals or objectives to be achieved, (2) formulates strategies to achieve them, (3) arranges or creates the means required, and (4) implements, directs, and monitors all steps in their proper sequence.”
See how the role of leadership takes on the requirements of management in the implementation of strategies and their supporting tactics in order to reach the vision. So it is with your job. Leaders lead but they manage too.
To believe that “these things just magically come together” is to lapse into the world of illusion, delusion, fantasy, and to be negligent of your duty and responsibility to yourself, your company, its customers and constituents. It won’t just magically occur because you say so.
But it will magically occur because you do so.
I once told my son that consultants and coaches are often regarded as wizards because they know things that mere mortals don’t. Often we look for magic formulas or shortcuts but in truth the “secrets” are as old as life itself. So, what are they? What do I need to do to make my vision a reality?
Those secrets come on my next post. Okay, maybe those secrets are not so secret, but they are processes most successful leaders do intuitively. I’ll list, define, explain, and review them next. See you Monday.
The expectation that leadership can be a singular role is unrealistic. We wear a lot of hats. We manage, we motivate, we correct, we monitor, we inspire, we facilitate, we coordinate, we focus, we bark, we growl, we whisper, we articulate, we define, and we execute.
A couple of posts ago I wrote about our position of responsibility at the top of the organizational system. Then I wrote about our place out front, the visionary whose outsight provides direction and focus to the energy and the efforts of the team, department, business, organization, or company.
Earlier in this series I’ve written about strategies to implement the vision and the tactics that provide tasks lists and daily objectives for everyone. This is where the majority of our work will take place.
Check out illustration #1 again. Your oversight takes on two dimensions. The inspirational and motivational side of your work depends upon the capacity of those who work with you, your associates and employees, to grasp the purposes of your business or organization. If they had the vantage point you have and the understanding you possess, your job would be simpler and easier.
But they don’t.
And they shouldn’t. Indeed, they can’t.
Your position at the top and out front equips you for your role at the bottom. Yes, you do have the enviable place of prestige and visibility as the “head” of your department, company, or organization. Yes, you do have the visibility that comes from being the point man (of course, I know that you very well might be female but the term point person seems unwieldy so permit me the non-sexist use of the humanitarian “man.” If point person makes this more palatable, then please read it as such.)
But I can tell you from experience that most of your time will spent in the execution of the strategic plans at the tactical level. And therefore much of your role as leader may indeed be consumed by managing the people and the things they do, the things they should do, and the things they do that you don’t want them to do. Who would of thought that your climb to the top places you most often at the bottom?
The principle at play here is:
“To get what you EXPECT you must be faithful and diligent to INSPECT.”
How that is done is the subject of much we talk about in leadership circles and the next topic on the horizon here at The Practical Leader. This diagram illustrates where your role works itself out in real life.
Yes, you and those who serve in management do indeed need to control process, contain expenses, and monitor progress. Yes, you do need to engage your top-level people and focus on the producers within your organization. But because your circle of concern is always greater than your circle of ability (what you want to see completed is more than you can do yourself) you must employ others both in the “Let’s hire some people” sense and in the “I’m overwhelmed and need to learn how to delegate better” sense.
The director of one organization I worked for followed his mantra of POTC – Plan, Organize, Train, Control. It worked for him, somewhat at least, but he was highly suspicious of the competence of anyone and everyone he’d hired so he spent most of his time and energy controlling. The work suffered because he simply could not leave anyone alone and it bottlenecked at him who had to assign, monitor, and approve almost everything.
But control is necessary to an extent and only to an extent. If you are a control freak I can predict that your organization will stifle and suffer. I want to add two more letters to the POTC mantra…another C and an F.
POTCC – Plan, Organize, Train, Control, Coordinate and Facilitate.
Effective leaders know very well how to coordinate and facilitate the efforts of those who work with and for them. They know how to light a fire under almost anyone without getting burned (BTW that is the subject of my next book due out later this year).
Those five letters P –O –T –C –F outline the next several posts. Planning is up on Thursday. See you then.
The mantra goes like this. We have a staff of employees, associates, and subordinates for three purposes:
To extend our reach – to make it possible for us as leaders and managers to get influence more people and thus get more done.
To multiply our effectiveness – the principle of reproduction works here. We impart to faithful people who are then able to impart to others. Our vision, our objectives, our enthusiasm, our ideas, our intelligence, our abilities are distributed through a network of trained and competent individuals, otherwise known as staff.
To divide our work – we add others so we can pass on task lists to them thus freeing ourselves to focus on those things that we can uniquely do. Discover what it is that you as a leader can do that no one else can. Give everything else away.
For those readers that have been visiting my blog for awhile, you’ve read the three purposes above before. (if you’re new and want to catch up, check them out here.) They sum up the definition of leadership which is:
“the process OF PERSUASION AND EXAMPLE by which an individual (or a leadership team) induces a group to TAKE ACTION that is in accord with the leader’s purposes or the shared purposes of all.”
Leadership does not happen in isolation. By its nature it involves, engages, and affects others. Therefore, leadership is primarily a function of influence, the capacity of one person to positively motivate someone else so that something happens.
No attributes of leadership are passive. They are all active. Something happens as a result of leadership. If nothing happens, if no one follows, if no one does anything, if nothing develops, leadership has not happened.
Like the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “Leading is easy. The hard part is getting people to follow.” So, the mobilization of inanimate objects requires some sort of force.
In my last post I wrote of the gentle side of force. Today, I will discuss the dynamics of force as it energizes objects and creates movement. If that is to happen, there must be some sort of connection, power lines if you will, that transfer energy from one to another. It looks and works like this:
Leadership conceptually and practically demands that you, as leaders or manager, get the ball rolling. A good friend who served as manager for a major automobile manufacturer once remarked that
“Effective leaders become the point of action and accomplishment while ineffective leaders become the point of reaction and resistance.”
My illustration above provides the outline for the next several posts. You as the leader or manager are the center point. Power starts with you. What you believe, what you say, who you are, and what you do either influences others or it doesn’t. Let’s take the premise that you are reading this blog because leadership rests on you.
With most subordinates, something must be said, tasks must be defined, and objectives must be clarified. The hand-off of power is called delegation. True enough, you may have associates who are quite intuitive and proven who can “read your mind” so to speak and pick up on what needs to be done, then run with it, but those associates are not many. Most will need, want, indeed wait for the hand-off from you.
If this does not happen, not much else will either.
However,NEVER DELEGATE AUTHORITY WITHOUT EXPLICITLY AND DEFINITIVELY TYING IT TO RESPONSIBILITY.
Power is not to be played with and never to be passed around simply because you can pass it around. Power has a purpose – to accomplish a specified and agreed upon task or objective.
Therefore, for you as leader and manager delegation does NOT MEAN abandoning responsibility even when you hand it off. Take another look at figure 1 above. Power needs a complete circuit in order to flow. Just like electricity, the power must return safely to its source.
The leader/manager always retains the responsibility to:
- Know what is going on,
- Set the direction for the department or company,
- Make the decisions the delegated party cannot make,
- Ensure that everyone stays on course
- Open doors, clear the way, offer a guiding hand,
- Assess performance,
- Be smart.
In the next post I will explain the choices you have to make when delegating, how the process works, and verbal contracts. Check back in on Thursday.
Perhaps more than any other trait, it separates the successful from the failure, the winner from the loser, the prosperous from the poor. A person with initiative does not wait to be told to something, does not sit back blaming anyone for his or her lack of progress, but steps up and gets going.
C. Northcote Parkinson said that “The man whose life is devoted to paperwork has lost the initiative. He is dealing with things that are brought to his notice, having ceased to notice anything for himself.”
Stephen Covey adds in his perspective when he says that “Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves – who can take initiative and be the solution to problems.
The Forced Laborer is always there BUT you have to go find them, take them to the job site, show them precisely what needs to be done, and either stand over them yourself or assign someone to do so in order to keep them working. They completely lack initiative.
The Hired Hand is a bit more independent. They will do the job once it has been pointed out, once the tools or devices necessary to do it are supplied, and once the task has been defined. But you usually do not have to monitor them very closely.
The Reliable Assistant has a good deal of initiative but may be a bit reluctant to volunteer. Once you issue a directive or point out a general task that needs to be done (which you can do by either specifying the task or the objective), they will take it from there. What’s more, they will aggressively account to you once they are finished.
The Trusted Associate is so in tune with the objectives of the organization, the supporting objectives of his or her department, and with the comprehensive vision articulated by you, that they will see what needs to be done even before it is pointed out. Then they will take charge and make sure it is done then report to you.
Forced Laborers and Hired Hands cost less money but more in supervisory engagement. Reliable Assistants and Trusted Associates cost more money but they free up manpower and, most critically, they free up your time.
People with the trait of initiative make the world, make your world, a better place. Now, if you’re a control freak, don’t be surprised if you drive people with initiative away. They do not like, and will not tolerate for long, too much meddling. It seems odd that control freaks bring trouble upon themselves. They drive off the independent types who could really help, who could extend their reach, multiply their effectiveness, and divide their work. They limit themselves to associates, subordinates, and employees who require copious amounts of oversight and management causing control freaks to lament that all they can find are people who have to be constantly managed.
So, what do you do? Find those with initiative and integrate them into your work circle so they can do what they do so well. Keep cycling through the others until you build a team that can run the engine of commerce without your constant oversight.
A woodshop in the Caribbean uses a lot of mahogany. Lots and lots of it. In my business, Dunigan Designs, (I sold the business a few years ago but you can check out the website here). Since we made doors, windows, custom furniture, closets, kitchens, and molding, we accumulated a lot of cut-off pieces called shorts that could be used in other projects.
Often there are several small pieces in a project so using a cut-off that would have been waste means a slightly higher profit margin. Over time those pieces piled up here and there around the shop. They needed organization.
So I asked one of my employees to find a way to recover the assets lying on the floor. 4 hours later he had built a rack, sorted all the wood lying around, and stored it by size. Now, when gathering resources for a project we could readily see what we had available that would have been scrap.
This is what organization does:
- It creates more out of less.
- It creates something out of nothing.
- It recovers resources and adds digits to your bottom line.
- It puts first things first, second things second, and establishes the logically ordered flow of work.
- It pulls reason out of chaos.
- It adds efficiency and economy of effort and resources.
Not everyone has the ability. At the same time, I had another employee who was patently disorganized. His workbench was always cluttered and piled high with tools, scraps, papers, and projects in process. When his bench was full, he would proceed to clutter up any available bench space and ended up too often working on the floor. I had to regularly stop him from working and make him clean things up.
Organizers are keepers because they do nothing but make life and work better, faster, easier. Organizers facilitate plans and planning. They create budgets and find the means to stick to them. They think ahead, a subject I cover later in this series.
Keeper trait #7 is diligence. See you Monday.
A fellow woodworking business owner has a unique and clever way of qualifying applicants for jobs. He brings them into the shop and offers to pay them for one week. During that week they have but one assignment. They can build anything they want in the shop, use the shop’s equipment and supplies under the condition that whatever they build must be planned, started, and completed in one work week.
The shop owner learns a lot during that week. One quality he is able to monitor is resource-fullness. He can observe, before he hires them, if they can learn their way around the shop, plan intelligently, use the machinery, complete something on time, produce commercial grade work, and solve the inevitable problems that arise.
Yes, I am aware that resource-full is misspelled. I did so intentionally. Resourcefulness is a dense word crammed with meaning. Resource-fullness crams in a little more.
In this series I am exploring the qualities that make for exceptional associates and employees; those capabilities, attitudes, and traits that make them keepers. The title says “not-so exceptional” because I believe there are lots of them around. They are all mixed in with everyone else but they are there in large numbers. Just not large enough.
I put resource-fullness at the top of the list because it is the most important trait by far when I look for associates. I want someone who can garner the components necessary to get the job done. Resource-fullness is both internal and external, that is a resource-full person has certain attitudes that always find expression in certain actions.
A Can Do spirit. One of my favorite movies in In Harm’s Way starring the Duke, John Wayne, and Kirk Douglas. In the opening segment, Wayne’s heavy cruiser is torpedoed and has gone dead in the water. A nearby destroyer pulls alongside to help. Wayne asks the destroyer’s captain if he can rig a line for towing and send over some pumps. The answer to both was, “Can do, sir.” Interestingly, the “captain” was not the ship’s captain at all but a Lieutenant JG. The captain had been ashore when the ship sortied to leave the harbor. You’ve probably guessed that the date was December 7th. The same Lieutenant JG soon found himself promoted, the result of his ability to get things done.
A Never Say Die tenacity. Resource-full associates just refuse to give up. If they don’t know the way, they find a way. If they don’t know the way to find a way, they find the way to find a way. Associates who are easily defeated are not keepers. Your work and that of your organization is too important to be placed in the hands of those who are easily stopped.
A High Capacity Server. I am borrowing here from today’s dimension of technology. If bandwidth is narrow and the number of users is high, connections are so slow. Some people are like that. They’re nice enough people, but way too slow on the uptake. Hint: If things have to be explained, and explained, and explained again, you are not talking to a high capacity user. Clichés become clichés because the meaning is so universal that the expression gets used and then over-used. One such is “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Well, it is. Resource-full people catch on quickly. Just a word and they get it, And then that run with it.
An almost paranormal intuition. Resource-full people are people who know. They can’t always tell you how they know. They may not even understand how they know. But they know. They possess a keen insight into the dynamics of how things work and can interpret that into what needs to be done. Resource-full people are not bulldozers, simply demolishing any impediment or opposition. They know the way through. Sid was working for a company in the middle of a giant relocation project. It was not a particularly large company but it had been in the same facility for many, many years and had spread over several buildings. They were downsizing and had to move. The deadline for vacating the property loomed and there remained yet lots to be done. The director had run out of options and was near panic. Sid called the local high school and asked if there were strong young men who wanted part-time work. Soon a squad of muscle arrived and the move finished off on time.
An Action Focus. Resource-full people move. They move forward, sideways, round about, but they move. They hate meetings, grind under the thought of a committee, and write reports only as part of the job. They love action. They are take charge and get it done people.
A Cadre of Contributors. Being full of resources, one depository of those resources is a band of others who know things to. They know suppliers, workman, technicians, counselors, and information people. They are able to tap into the best minds and warehouses available because their experience and personality has put them in connection with them.
Powers of Persuasion. They are skilled negotiators and persuasive managers. They have a natural authority and a command presence. In short, they are leaders just like you are.
Life is a problem solving venture. So is business. Daily, sometimes hourly, oftimes it seems momentarily we are confronted with something that doesn’t work, a system that has failed, a component that is out of stock, a machine that has broken, a person that is being contrary, a problem to solve.
You hire people to solve them, not create more. Resource-full people are those people. When you find them, try not to run them off (Hint: That is my next series – The ways we drive away our best people.)
The next installment in this series is aggressive accountability. Coming up Thursday, April 18th.
She was a hidden gem. A degree in Business Admin, she had taken a job as a server just to get a job. In the economy of her city, jobs were not that easy to find and even though she was way over-qualified, she took the job. For several months she worked, showed up on time, handled her duties diligently, and said nothing while her superior bungled his.
Eventually top management gave up trying to educate and train that manager to handle the minimal demands of the job. When they let him go, they asked her if she would accept the position. She did and grabbed onto it from the first moment. Within hours the top management saw that their choice had been the right one. Now, quite some time later, the positive report holds up. This is a true story, by the way.
So this event provoked me to consider just what it is in certain people that make them stand out, that make them valuable assets to a company or organization. I came up with the following list which I will discuss deeper and post, one at a time, over the next several days.
Here is my list of 16 personal qualities found in people you must keep around you. The series begins tomorrow.
- Aggressive accountability
- Psychological security
- Loyalty (personal & institutional)
- Sensitivity – they understand what is important to you
- Skills appropriate to the position
- Truthfulness – no sycophants need apply
- Teach-able – can bring others along
- Volunteerism (Initiative)
The first three installments in this series covering management’s most basic principles addresses Planning, Organizing, and Training. Once those have been done, or more realistically, once those are being done, the final principle is that of controlling action.
If nothing is moving, the first challenge is to get things moving in an orderly manner. One that happens, the next logical addition is to control what is moving; minimize waste, maximize efficiency, and focus efforts.
Control happens when movements are contained within certain parameters. In engineering those parameters would be called “tolerances” because a certain degree of latitude is allowed. In retail businesses, they control inventory by budgeting for shrinkage, which is the loss of inventory, through breakage and theft. In manufacturing, control is exercised by managing time, predicting and planning for the supply of component parts, and monitoring specifications.
In all applications of control, there has to exist a standard from which all variance is measured. Here it might be helpful to borrow a term and concept from surveying. When new territory is being plotted, surveyors lay a base line, a straight line running a fixed length along which all other measurements are to be made. When the original settlers of the San Bernardino valley laid out the city their base line, now a busy street, ran for many miles. All other streets and the plots of land that would be parceled out to settlers were measured from that on line.
Management and leadership uses the same principle. A standard is established which becomes the target for measuring performance and therefore a basis for controlling action. Corporate run restaurants establish the target number of diners and their average purchase amount and they control costs by carefully controlling portions in both recipes and servings.
Corporate run casinos know how much money the average gambler will lose at a blackjack table per hand that is dealt. They also set the standard for how many hands the dealer should deal per hour and thus can predict with reasonable accuracy how much the table should earn. They then monitor the take from that table and can see where it deviates from the base line. If a regular pattern emerges, say one particular dealer is earning less than those who precede of follow him, the house begins to look for the reason why.
Base line control works just about everywhere. It was Peter Drucker who said that “if you cannot count it you cannot control it.” So the concept and practice of control is a counting action. Leaders do not do so well at this because the nature of leadership is less specific and more inspirational. However, if inspirational and motivational influence does not somewhere and somehow translate to measurable advances, leadership is relegated to platitudes and concepts. They’re pleasant but produce little in the way of lasting effect.
Control is a concept many people are uncomfortable with because it requires them to hold people accountable for results. We live in an age of fuzziness where we confuse feelings and attitudes with genuine advancement and progress. HR people and social scientists have proposed that we focus on the feeling side of work which can have a counterproductive effect if not balanced with real control targets. Your role as manager is to place the right people in the right positions so they can do the right job at the right time and produce the right results. Feeling good, loved, accepted, and fulfilled has value as long as that focus does not override the objective – to produce results.
On the other hand, too much control can result in friction (see my post here about that subject). If things are functioning smoothly and on track, a different kind of control is called for. MacGregor’s X and Y management styles addresses this and I will too in future posts (this is also the subject of my next book “How To Light A Fire Under Almost Anyone Without Getting Burned”) so be informed that that this subject is by no means exhausted here.
In summary, here are the 7 key components of the principle of control:
- Management is a game won or lost by numbers. To be able to control is to be able to count.
- A base line needs to be determined and laid out so EVERYONE who is accountable to it understands it and what it means. It is unfair to hold people to standards they are not aware of.
- Ineffective managers keep moving the base line. This inevitably causes confusion and resentment. If you arbitrarily move the baseline to put more money in your pocket while taking money OUT of the pockets of the people who work for you, count on your best and most productive people moving on.
- Ineffective managers have no baseline going in or they refuse to reveal it to their associates. People respond best when they know what is expected of them. If you are going to hold people accountable for numbers make very sure they know what those numbers are.
- Monitor deviation from base line numbers and find out why before jumping to a conclusion. There can be more than one reason why numbers are not met or exceeded.
- If you move numbers higher because of better than expected results make sure it is a joint effort and a reasonable one.
- To control results you’ll need to coordinate efforts. Until you have clear evidence otherwise, you may assume that most people want to do well in their jobs and will continue to do so if given the right tools and competent management. Demanding more with less will doubtless provoke resentment, grumbling, and plots of rebellion (just ask an ancient Pharoah when he demanded his guest workers, the Israelites, to make more bricks with less straw). It takes lots of fuel and gear grinding to get a vehicle moving, but once it is on the road, a different type of control is necessary. You can let the machine do what it was designed to do and simply keep a supply of fuel, lubrication, and guidance to keep it on the road an on the way.
The first three installments of Management 101 are available here:
I am yet in Uganda, East Africa. I spent the last two days on the road travelling up-country arriving back in Entebbe last night to discover that my internet access was no longer functioning. As of mid-day today it is still out. I have a wireless modem used here through the mobile phone providers but it is so slow I hesitate to use it. Nonetheless I have. Even getting airtime is fun. A trip downtown to the currency exchange office to but more shillings, then a walk down the street to the mobile phone office, a wait in line, then it’s my turn. Select the number of gb’s I want for a month and pay the fee while the tech retrieves the SIM card registration, gets the airtime and downloads it onto the stick. I am using the stick modem now. Thanks for your patience.