To move our companies forward, we need to experiment. We need to try out new products, new sales/ marketing strategies, new processes, and new leadership styles. We cannot be certain if all of these will work. But, to not experiment means that our companies stagnate.
It is common sense to take a method and try it: if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But, above all, try something. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“In a minute, there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
This line from the 1915 T.S. Elliot poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, is a lovely bit of poetry. It is also a prescription for how not to run a business.
To be successful leaders running successful businesses, we need to be decisive. We need to make a decision, decide on a course of action, and then work relentlessly to execute on the decision.
“The one word that makes a good manager — decisiveness.” Lee Iacocca
Guilty as charged!! I confess that I do, at times, micromanage.
However, soon after slipping into micromanagement, I become aware (yet again) that micromanagement is truly just mis-management. It would have been far better for me to avoid the trap of micromanagement and to focus instead on coaching and empowering my team to achieve great results.
Several years ago, a medical surgeon, Atul Gawande, wrote a best-selling book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, that discusses the advantages of using checklists in all types of activities from surgery to disaster recovery to business.
As leaders, we need to follow his advice and use checklists regularly to help improve our companies.
Our words matter.
As leaders, we spend much of our time communicating with others through our actions, our body language, and especially our words.
Unfortunately, all too often we do not use our words well leading to poor communication and poor performance.
Some thoughts on using words well:
It happens to all of us.
- A direct report either gets promoted, quits or gets fired, and we have to manage his or her direct reports in addition to all of our other duties.
- We are assigned to a special project or task team and are expected to continue to do our regular job.
- We have to get into the details to turn around an under-performing operation while keeping all other operations moving forward.
For many leaders, leading when overwhelmed leads to deteriorating performance. We try to work in the same way that we did before we took on all these extra duties and responsibilities. Nevertheless, it does not work.
- Important tasks do not get completed
- We are not holding our direct reports as accountable as we should because we do not have time for our usual interaction
Internet entrepreneur, Simon Sinek, has a popular TED talk on asking why. His primary advice in building a successful company is that:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Unfortunately, while I admire Mr. Sinek, I cannot fully agree with this principle. Like most Americans, I generally buy from companies based on the quality, price and service of what they provide, not based upon why they do what they do.