I’d like to introduce a vital and unique addition to the Leader’s toolkit.
As I’ve said before, Leadership is lonely; however one of the most important things I’ve learned is that help is always available, if you know where (and when) to look for it. Google the word “Consultant” and you will instantly receive some 433 million results! Go to your local bookstore and you will find hundreds of books on Business and Self Help – in fact you probably have quite a few at home or in the office. And of course, there are myriad training courses available; you’ve almost certainly attended dozens if, like me, you’ve been in business for a while.
The biggest challenge of course, is not that there is a lack of help available; it’s finding the time to obtain the help that is right for you, and then the time to apply the lessons learned. In a neat phrase, my colleague Nigel Risner refers to “shelf development” – all those consultants’ reports, management books and training course folders, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust. So much help, so little time!
The fact is, for many of us, the biggest challenge is actually not time – it is commitment. As the guru of gurus, Peter Drucker put it, “Do first things first, and second things not at all.” Imagine that! Imagine how different our lives would be if we could just focus on doing the most important things and not let the minutiae get in the way! This is not the place for a sermon on time management, prioritisation, defeating the tyranny of email and so on – no doubt we all have plenty of that type of “shelf development” already! However, there is no doubt that successful Leadership demands the ability to focus on the things that matter most, and ensure that they are what drives all activity within the organisation.
I’ve previously suggested a few of these “things that matter most”:
- PURPOSE – “finding your ‘WHY’”
- TRUST – obtained, and maintained, through INTEGRITY and AUTHENTICITY
- Your PEOPLE – your most important customers
- Attention to all five elements of your SERVICE Model
As well as “shelf development” there are numerous systems and standards in existence which are designed to support a coherent approach to business. Often designed to be facilitated by coaches, consultants, or even internal departments, they include Investors in People (IiP), Hospitality Assured (HA), and Six Sigma. Of these, IiP and HA consist of a series of defined steps, designed to ensure that the organisation is clear on its purpose, knows its customers, has identified performance standards, and has adequate expertise and resources deployed – in particular, that its people are fully engaged in the enterprise.
The Peter Drucker Foundation Self-Assessment Tool was designed specifically for non-profit organisations to devise or revamp their strategy and organisation to best serve their PURPOSE – although I’ve found the tool just as powerful for commercial organisations.
Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It was developed by Motorola in 1986. The celebrated American business Leader Jack Welch made it central to his business strategy at General Electric in 1995. Today, it is used in many industrial sectors.
Having used and/or studied these and other systems – including the extended Disney service model – I’ve concluded that they can be very powerful in bringing organisations together, helping them to focus, develop a common language and facilitate doing “first things first”. I do however believe that there is another tool needed – a personal guidance tool, one that will enable the Leader to lead better, whatever systems and processes the organisation employs. The tool will enable the leader to define PURPOSE, set the course, communicate, ”do first things first” and be “Chief Dispenser of Enthusiasm”, every hour of every day.
And, that tool will be the subject of my next post!