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I’ve always been a proponent of focusing on business processes instead of individual talents. We all have areas that we excel and we can provide specialty service in our particular field, however for long term success we need to understand the process instead of the people, especially for business processes that are considered routine. For example, if you were to go to a bank to cash a check, you expect the bank to accomplish that task, not tell you that you have to wait for John in order to make it happen. If John was out for the day, you would really be stuck!
While the need for people with skills is not in question, it is the skill that is required, not the person. My perspective may seem harsh but really it is the best for the organization and for the team. One person may do that skill better than another which is also not in question. My point is that for a team or a project to be successful, everything and everyone involved needs to look at the work not the people. One way to look at it is if a team is working to improve how the bank cashes the check, their efforts will be on the actions and tasks involved. This does not mean that people are out of the picture – far from it.
Unless a process is completely automated, people will have an impact (and even then they may be involved for quality). People are always going to be involved but focusing on one person may not be the best solution. My point is that if a process is person-dependent, then the process may be bottlenecked or at the mercy of that person’s schedule. What if John is out sick? Cross-training helps alleviate the need for a particular person and puts the emphasis back on the process. What are you cross-training – the skills and the process. As a leader, I will always support my people but I will teach and train the processes.
I’ve written a lot over the last year and a half about change and our approach to it as leaders. It is time to apply some of those lessons shared to my own life. I have accepted a position with a company in Texas and will be moving there just after the New Year. I do not know how much I will be able to keep up this blog once I start my new position. This is a big change for me personally and professionally but I am hopeful about the future. To be perfectly honest, I am still very overwhelmed about so much change but it is getting easier as we make more decisions. Having such big unknowns made the change hard – the biggest being where are we going to live. As these big questions have answers, I become less overwhelmed and more excited. More decisions finalized equates to more clarity which helps calm my anxiety. See.. it does work.
I want to thank everyone who has read and followed this blog. I appreciate the fact that you took a few moments out of your day to read what came out of my heart and my head. I hope some of it made sense and maybe some of it helped, that was always the point. I wish you all the very best!
In response to my last blog – The Illusion of Control, someone wrote “Leadership is not having control. Leadership is being in control.” I thought this statement was excellent and needed further dissection and dissemination. The alteration of the verb within the statement makes all the difference in the world – having and being. Let’s take a look at each word as defined by Webster Merriam Dictionary.
have (verb \ˈhav, (h)əv, v; in “have to” meaning “must” usually ˈhaf\)
1a : to hold or maintain as a possession, privilege, or entitlement
b : to hold in one’s use, service, regard, or at one’s disposal
c : to hold, include, or contain as a part or whole
be (verb \ˈbē\ ; present participle “being”)
1a : to equal in meaning : have the same connotation as: symbolize
b : to have identity with
c : to constitute the same class as
d : to have a specified qualification or characterization
e : to belong to the class of
Looking at the definitions gives clear distinction between the two perspectives. As stated, to have means to hold or maintain possession. The implication is superiority or dominance when applied to leadership. While leadership does include responsibility and authority, I contend superiority is not on the list of attributes. The verb ‘be’ includes various uses, tenses and terms but the predominant theme in the definition is equality. In my opinion this is the key division between true leaders versus managers.
Leaders are not only the head of a team but they remain team members as well. Those that choose to set themselves apart from the team instead of digging in deep and working shoulder to shoulder do not succeed as a true leader can. For leaders, ‘having’ control does not directly correlate that they are actually ‘in’ control since as Webster stated – it is an entitlement. I find that entitlement leads to apathy and no person can lead when they are apathetic towards their team. ‘Being’ in control is a state of doing something, of action, which is the need of the team from their leaders. People that display strength, courage, wisdom and humility which inspires others are ‘in’ control, and the team is ready to willingly follow their leader.
CEO, The Professional Development Team