Friday, September 30, 2016

practicing the execution of leadership

While I cannot speak from personal experience, this is what I think I know about doctors who are getting ready to perform a surgery:
  1. They read up on the latest research that has been done regarding the surgery they are about to do
  2. They consult with other doctors who have recently performed that particular surgery
  3. They use models and/or 3-D imaging to examine that part of the body and simulate the surgery
  4. They keep learning up until the day and time of the surgery, just in case there might be something new to learn
What about those in leadership positions?  Do they, when getting ready to execute a decision, follow similar procedures and practices?  Do those who claim to be leaders take each decision and execution of a decision as seriously as a doctor performing surgery?  Perhaps those in leadership positions believe that these are not life and death situations, when in fact the result of those decisions could be life or death for an organization...and can certainly feel like life or death to those people affected.  Perhaps those in leadership positions believe they have learned everything they need to know about leadership and that there is nothing new being written or said that  they do not already know.  Perhaps those in leadership positions believe that leadership is inate in people, and that they are in that role because they have worked hard and done what comes naturally.  The problem with these beliefs is that leaders ARE executing life and death decisions, and to leave that up to intuition, well meaning, and fate could cause serious harm.  So how might leaders practice executing their decisions?  Here are a few thoughts:
  1. What's on your bookshelf?  Have you read widely in the area of leadership and know where to turn to for a reminder of what to do in certain circumstances?
  2. Who is in your contact list?  How many people do you know that have already executed on these decisions, and are you willing to reach out to them for advice?
  3. Have you looked for the latest research?  Reading Peter Drucker and Jim Collins  is important...but have you found out what academic research has been done recently on the particular decision you are getting ready to execute?  Just as in medicine, new ideas are being discoverd every day on these topics.
  4. Have you practiced what you are going to say and/or do?  Writing out what you are going to say, how you are going to say it, and rehearsing with others in a role play can make the execution go much more effectively.
  5. Do you have a team around you to whom you are listening and with whom you are collaborating?  Many of those in leadership positions have gotten there because of their individual hard work...these decisions are often much more complex and more difficult to execute.
When leaders consider that their decisions (and the execution of those decisions) are high stakes, what happens prior to that execution will look different.  I would posit that many of our decisions in organizations (and in life) are hgih stake decisions since they involve people and their livelihood.  Let's take leadership preparation and practice seriously!

1 comment:

James Preece said...

On those fortunately rare occasions in my past when faced with making difficult cuts in my organization due to a deep economic downturn, I used an analogy of a surgeon having to remove a gangrenous limb...he/she surely did not enjoy it, but knew it was necessary to save the entire patient.