Be A Leader!
All too often managers and executives who demonstrate solid leadership miss one of the four behaviors that we consider to be critical. The net result is that projects get delayed, organizations underachieve, people overspend their budgets, or are incapable of working without managerial direction or organizations find themselves in ethical turmoil.
While the four areas identified below are by no means intended to be an all inclusive list of leadership behavior and traits that will guarantee success, they are areas we think need to be highlighted given our combined experience:
Align Your Strategy to Your Vision and Execute It!
Churn in strategy, requirements, and approach is one of the biggest drivers of late products. Oftentimes in young companies it comes from the CEO and senior executives. Be careful of adopting sales leading strategies where every week you are modifying your approach for your next big sale opportunity. Do not allow the new BSO (Bright Shiny Object) to distract you from your goals of getting your game changing ideas to market. Every time you change your mind or direction, you are adding cost and complexity to your operation and you are creating morale issues for the people who just want to get things out the door. Stalled and delayed projects resulting from change in direction are a huge driver of morale problems and employee churn.
“But,” you might say, “we need to be nimble and turn on a dime. We have to be a speedboat, not a battleship”. We agree. But if you are making constant turns weekly, then you are just going in a circle and by definition getting nowhere. Who is going to remind you of all of the changes you have made and the cost that you have added in doing so? Maybe some of your turns were a result of not performing enough product discovery, or perhaps your market assessments need tweaking. Knowing when to change because there is a real business need versus changing because of a lack of focus is one thing that separates the successful executive from the failures.
Set Aggressive but Achievable Goals for Your Teams
Set goals that are aggressive, but achievable. They should be a stretch (how else can you MAXIMIZE shareholder value), and aligned with your vision and mission. To the point of “achievable” make certain that they are informed by the art of what is possible. There is a fine line between aggressive goals that motivate and inspire teams and those that destroy team morale and productivity. Some pushback means that you are probably “dead on”; a team revolt means it is time to reconsider your goals.
Create a Causal Mental Roadmap to Value Maximization
How many members of your team can answer the following question correctly: “How do your daily responsibilities and actions maximize shareholder value”? We ask this question quite often in our engagements, and most often we are met with quizzical and even comical looks. Spend time with your team teaching them how their roles, responsibilities and goals align to the company’s vision and mission and how that in turn maximizes shareholder value. Doing so will help your team make better decisions and in general be happier about their jobs. Moreover, it will help them make the decisions YOU would make in your absence.
Make Timely, Sound, and MORALLY CORRECT Decisions
We capitalized the “morally correct” portion of the sentence for a reason. You are under a looking glass – not just from the outside world but from within your company as well. Your team will watch how you approach your decisions, what corners you cut and what ethical boundaries with which you may be willing to flirt. Remember that it is not what you actually DO – it is how they perceive you DOING IT. Make well informed decisions quickly and be careful to explain how and why you are doing them. While you may want your team to cut corners to speed up time to market, you do not want your team cutting corners when it comes to matters of ethics.