Doug Brown's Articles on American Executive Magazine
AMERICAN EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE
Where Leadership Begins
Cost containment has become the mantra over the last several years for almost everyone. People have been accepting the thought, sometimes reluctantly, that they need to do what it takes to survive the downturn.
We were aware that any time people operate multiple locations or divisions, they are subject to a potential culture clash. But in preparing to help a build a team within a multinational client, we realized this can apply to much smaller organizations, even those operating locations across the street from each other.
“In five years, you’ll be exactly where you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Unless we consciously do something to change our thinking, we will be stuck where we are.
I have noticed a troubling pattern. Despite how intellectually bright executives are at the top of the house, they seem to be suffering from one or more blind spots that color their view and inhibit their judgment.
“It is usually not what we don’t know that kills us. It is what we think we know that we don’t that kills us.”
I am hesitant to refer to passion as a management tool because I don’t want to advocate manipulation in its most negative form. Instead, I want you to approach this as a form of booster rocket that you can adapt and use to get to where you want to go faster.
I’ll address one shortcoming in this article: not publicizing a list of corporate goals and objectives in priority order. Without a public list like this, people at every level of the organization are forced to guess at the most important criteria for making decisions.
Whether they refer to them as raving fans, zealots for their business, loyal customers, or long-term clients, most executives today are trying to ensure their companies get and keep profitable customers.
How would we be operating our enterprise if we were going through a turnaround right now? That led me to think about achieving transformation by thinking differently— without going through the massive pain and suffering a turnaround typically involves.
Employee engagement doesn’t have to be relegated to some soft-headed, everybody-feelgood- and-sing-Kumbaya moments. It can deliver pragmatic outcomes that most execs would die for.
It doesn’t matter whether you look at elected officials like Sanford, Blagojevich, Clinton, or Nixon or famous individuals such as Falwell, King, Jackson, Skilling, or Madoff, the underlying behavior is identical. What led to their public dressing down was their apparent belief that the rules of conduct that apply to other people somehow don’t apply to them.
For example, when I ask executives, “What is your unique differentiation in the marketplace?” or “What does your organization really excel at?” they often reply, “It has to be our customer service.” Almost no one will admit to being lousy in customer service, anymore than they will talk about living in an average town with average kids.
Imagine there was a relatively simple tool that could help you understand and predict how members of your teamand organization would likely performover a period of time. Youmay already know it as the universal change curve or the forming, storming, norming, and performing curve, a variation on the work of B.W. Tuckman that originally appeared in 1965.