Besides How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, the first real business book of substance I read and studied was the groundbreaking, In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman.
The common sense success characteristics practiced by excellent companies and discussed throughout In Search of Excellence — like staying close to the customer, productivity through people, hands-on value driven, stick to the knitting — unquestionably captured my imagination and focused my thinking in the earliest days of my professional career. As my attention and focus shifted to studying and understanding the power of a properly prepared leader, I remember distinctly one of the most personally relevant aspects of their work.
Skipping the One Thing In Search of a Thousand
The authors suggested far too many companies regularly engage in what amounts to a fool’s errand. They feverishly form committees, hire consultants and chase the latest management fads, searching for that one thing (my emphasis added) bound to guarantee a thousand percent improvement for the company and its fortunes going forward. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of organizations, large and small, that one thing simply doesn’t exist.
Conversely, a handful of successful organizations and the steady, forward thinking individuals that lead them continually register growth and improvement year in and year out as a result of discovering a valuable truth that lays hidden in plain sight. This truth is so simple most organizations choose to overlook, disregard or discount its value completely.
The foundational truth that leaders ought to know is this: We should abandon our fruitless search for that one thing that might change our fortunes by a thousand percent and instead turn our attention to the one thousand things that can be improved one percent consistently, thus assuring never ending continual improvement.
From Leaders Ought To Know:11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership, here are just a few of the thousands of things leaders can improve one percent for dramatic results:
* Take action on behalf of our employees.
* Stop manipulating to get results.
* Take responsibility for our mistakes.
* Ask what our followers expect of us.
* Maintain honesty and confidentiality.
* Be consistent.
* Control our emotions.
* Apologize when we mess up.
This is just the tip of the iceberg — what small changes can you suggest that would guarantee leadership excellence revisited over and over? Please share your ideas with us.
Phillip Van Hooser
Leadership Expert, Keynote Speaker
Author of Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership