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Outlook on Leadership

by Dan Wyant

Chairman & President

Management 101: Blocking and tackling

When it comes to management and leadership development, people usually view them in separate camps, with leadership capturing more of limelight. Granted, they are different skill sets. Management is more about organization and putting things in order whereas leadership is about creating a vision and getting others to follow you. Yet there’s definitely overlap, and leaders must also take time to hone their management muscle.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead both small and large organizations, and here are my key management takeaways:

Be a talent scout. This is the most important thing you can do. You have to continually be on the lookout for talented individuals who not only can add value to your organization but also fit in with your culture. After you get the right people on the bus, then you need to make sure they’re in the right seats.

Communicate the vision — a lot. People want to know what they’re working toward — and why. Whether or not a big, hairy, audacious goal is one that you’ve set, it’s important to consistently articulate the thinking behind it. Too often leaders hold a company-wide meeting to announce a major initiative and then get frustrated when employees either don’t understand or drag their feet on implementation. Discussing it once doesn’t mean you’re done. You must have repetition.

 Establish meaningful metrics. In addition to identifying the destination you want to reach, you need to gauge your progress along the way. Don’t measure just to measure, but rather to make sure you’re on course. A great book on this is “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” Its authors describe a system to achieve “wildly important goals” (WIGs) where people not only are accountable to their boss but also other team members. They advocate short weekly meetings where team members: 1) quickly review what they’ve done to advance lead measures, 2) identify snags, successes and lessons learned, and 3) make new commitments for the upcoming week. This methodology continually reconnects everyone with the WIGs, rather than being distracted by daily fires.

Get rid of problem people. These folks usually fall into two categories: underperformers and troublemakers (the ones who are always causing conflict). Firing is neither fun nor easy, but it’s not fair to your organization to keep poor performers or chronic malcontents around. They’re toxic and a drain on the rest of the team. Granted, you need to go through the process of trying help these people. But when it’s apparent they either can’t or won’t deliver, you have no choice but to show them the door.

Ring the bell. Bonuses and promotions are two ways to recognize people for good performance. But don’t overlook the power of a compliment, whether it’s verbal or in written form. By applauding someone’s efforts, you can reinforce desired behavior, not only for that individual but also the entire organization.

Admittedly, the above observations are nothing new. The problem is, leaders neglect to practice them. Yet just as blocking and tackling are key to success on the football field, these management fundamentals help make your organization a champion.

Originally published on LinkedIn March 7, 2017