Warning: Leadership Construction Zone Ahead!
When my kids were little, they were particularly fond of the nursery rhyme The Three Little Pigs. In it, the big bad wolf manages to successfully blow down the houses made of straw and sticks and enjoy a pulled pork lunch. When he got to the brick house, though, all of the huffing and puffing in the world wasn’t going to blow that house down. So much for another meal of the other white meat.
When it comes to leadership, you can build a house of sticks or straw by focusing just on your ability to plan, your people management and cultivation skills, or your ability to drive work. What I’ve found is that while each of these attributes is important, leaders of today cannot rely on just one attribute. Leaders of today need more. They need three crucial raw materials to be a complete leader. They need to excel at the Three P’s: Planning, Process and People.
The Leadership Made Simple Series focuses on building your planning, process, and people skills to ensure your leadership house isn’t built of vulnerable straw or precarious sticks. Rather, your leadership house will be built of solid brick and mortar and will withstand many of the challenges you will face, whether you are leading a large team in a corporate environment, a PTA organization, or a student project. Each Leadership Made Simple ebook is designed to give you some very practical, relevant and actionable nuggets which you can apply to whatever leadership situation you may be in. Regardless of your experience level or situation, you’ll find some value in each and every Leadership Made Simple ebook.
Lay the first brick and start building your leadership house right now. Let’s get to it!
Planning – Just get in the car and drive south until you see Mexico
Imagine going on a family vacation to your most favorite place on earth. You get the car packed up, everyone is buckled in, the kids have made a trip to the porcelain facilities and you’re ready to go. Your spouse then turns to you and asks, “How are we getting there?” You turn and say “Well, we can fly, drive, or take the train. How about we just start heading south and we’ll decide along the way?”
True, this scenario sounds ludicrous in terms of planning your next vacation, but think about a situation where your leader (or maybe you were the leader) set a goal but had no idea as to how you were going to achieve that goal. The team was left to figure things out for itself, maybe do some ad-hoc planning, or fumble around in the dark hoping to somehow hit the target. Great leaders simply don’t commit to goals without knowing how the team will get there. Great leaders can lay the tracks so that the team just has to follow along, gliding smoothly along the guidelines set out for them. Great leaders are great at planning.
To get some perspective on what effective leaders who are great at planning do, look at some of these attributes and think about how you may stack up against them:
The planning ebooks in the series are as follows:
Process – Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…
In 1970 the Five Man Electrical Band released the song Signs. The song describes several vignettes about how posted warnings or rules were disregarded or protested by someone unwilling to adhere to the sign’s verbiage. Signs were portrayed as a hindrance.
When it comes to processes, some leaders take comfort in having a standard, repeatable, and efficient process infrastructure. Others can either take or leave a well-oiled process infrastructure. Still others see a structured process infrastructure just like sign, sign, everywhere a sign. To those people, structure means hindrance and suppresses getting things done.
Where a structured infrastructure runs amok is when process takes precedence over from a results-oriented approach to fulfilling objectives. I’ve seen all too many situations where things were done according to the book but in the end the team still failed in meeting its intended goal. Great leaders need to be bullish about a well-oiled process infrastructure, but need to be in tune enough with what is required to know when the rules need to be bent. So, a structured process infrastructure needs to exist, but leaders need to apply sound practical judgment to ensure they are doing the right thing, not just doing things right.
Think about these characteristics as you think about your own process leadership qualities:
The process ebooks in the series are as follows:
People – Take me out to the ball game….
I love baseball. I love watching the strategy behind the game, that incredible catch in the outfield, or the tape measure home run. One aspect of baseball that I particularly enjoy is when a team succeeds not because of a marquee player but because the entire team pulls together to win games. The 2001 Seattle Mariners fit that mold. Even though they didn’t make it to the World Series, they tied a major-league record 116 wins that season under the leadership of “Sweet Lou” Piniella. They were a team, not a group of individual stars.
Great leaders know how to get people rowing in the same direction to deliver great results. They recognize that far more can be accomplished when a team works together than when any individual member works alone. They also recognize that individual performance and skill cultivation forms the foundation which great teams are built and know that poor performance by any individual can spell doom for a team if gone unchecked.
Great people leaders demonstrate outstanding individual and team cultivation skills. See which of these resonate with you:
The people ebooks in the series are as follows:
Before you push off onto your leadership journey, let’s do a quick review of the three P’s:
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