I’ve always been a tool guy. I grew up around them and learned early on how to use them. I learned how to take things apart with them and how to put things back together. I grew to appreciate tools for what they could do which led to an admiration of the creative minds that spawned the development of tools and their cleverness at putting tools to work.

Tools set us apart from lower species. We humans can see how a device or implement will enable something to happen that otherwise would not happen easily or not happen at all.

Tools in the hands of a skilled operator make beautiful things out of crude, raw material. Tools applied in the right way to the right things make useable items out of broken items.

We are always buying more of them and learning how to use them. Although some merely collect tools, artisans and dedicated craftsmen admire a tool not only for how it appears but for what it will do…and then they take the tool and do it.

Practical leaders are tool buyers and users too. Our tools are not found on the pages of catalogs or in a box in the shop but in the minds and words we, and others, use. Practical leaders do the same things with tools that does a carpenter or machinist, but in an entirely different sphere.

With tools of mind and voice, leaders:

  • Take a chaotic situation and from it bring order, then purpose
  • Take a broken life or a broken organization and make it work again
  • Take a dismantled relationship and repair it
  • Take a mangled opportunity and turn it into a compelling challenge and find a creative solution
  • Assemble a pile of component parts – people, equipment, buildings, etc., and turn it into a functioning, operable, productive company or organization

This entry marks the beginning of a series on the Tools of a Practical Leader. Here is a list of the tool topics I will define, explain, and demonstrate how to use in the coming editions of this blog:

1. The tools that are marketed as tools and are believed to be the ultimate in tools but are not really very useful tools at all.

2. How practical leaders need many tools but we tend to favor just one or two.

3. 4 cognitive tools that are essential to keep you from injuring yourself or others.

4. 5 psychological tools that all effective leaders use very well

5. 2 survey tools that enable you and those you lead to find the way.

6. 4 administrative tools that keep the machinery running smoothly and the workplace efficient and economical

7. The 6 “machine tools” you can buy to help you get more done with less work.

And much, much more…

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