Friday, January 2, 2009

Leadership-Trying to Get the Most or Best From Your People?

Leadership is about inspiring action in others. And beyond that, the most effective leaders inspire not just action, but excellence, in others. Isn't that what we all aspire to do as leaders or managers? However, too often the ways we manage people lead to compliance with standards and not greatness.

One of the biggest factors in undermining excellence is having a lack of focus. So often you see performance appraisals where there is a long laundry list of tasks, each with maybe 5% impact on overall performance. If you were asked to learn 20 different sports and musical instruments all at the same time, could you achieve excellence in any of them? It seems that we are worried that if there isn't a long list of things that our people will either run out of things to do or will slack off quietly in the background. What if you instead gave people a clear focus on just the most high impact areas where they could contribute the most for a year.

The quote, "are you trying to get the most or the best from your people," has become a great wake up call to those who are taking comfort in managing people by long checklist performance appraisals. Performance is driven in those cases more by doing just enough to earn the check mark, not driving hard for excellence on just three things for impact.

Some ideas to get you stared are:

1) select the top 3 actions that will create the biggest impact on results

2) make sure those to 3 things are all areas where your unique skills and capabilities position the ability to deliver with excellence

3) with the 17 or so things that fall off the task list, think about how to invest that time into further accelerating the 3 items and building the skills and capabilites for excellence

Good luck in inspiring excellence in 2009!

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