Wednesday, May 14

Free consulting under your nose 

In the real world of business, managers are faced with complex people issues, leading from the gut, hard deadlines and quotas, and making tough practical decisions every day with no theoretical framework or academic research to support them. There is no formal education in these areas.

Managers simply have to get on the bike!

Quite often, the organization of today is being run with staff structures and communication processes left over from years or decades past. Periodically, it's essential to revisit the hierarchy, job descriptions, titles, turf, and processes. Are you having the right kind of meetings? Are
the right people in attendance? Should you be having meetings at all? Unless your company is exactly the same as it was in 1985, your staff structure had better evolve.

One critical element missing in a lot of companies is a clear system of cultural leadership. Simply put, "this is the way we lead around here."

Training, coaching, critiquing and teaching are important leadership duties. Have you designated this as part of the value description of the leader's role? Do managers have the authority, and the time, to do this effectively? If not, explicitly designate a percentage of their work weekto perform these tasks. And hold them to it, encourage it, ask about it, and reward it.

Otherwise, managers are just plugging holes and bailing water to keep the place afloat. Just as you'd have a sales manager review the work of the sales staff, ask leaders to review the leadership work of their next level of leaders - and not in a drive-by, or just once a year for a
"performance review." Make leadership effectiveness an overt priority.

So, where do you start? How do you get better if any of the above describes your company?

Begin with a frank conversation of priorities, and review your staff to see if you have the right players and resources in place.

Is morale low on the sales team? If so, maybe you need to designate a mentor/coach/champion.

Is your company's competitive position slipping in the evolving marketplace? If so, maybe you need to allocate some marketing and innovation expertise in that area.

And no, this doesn't always mean bringing in a consultant or guru from the outside. Sometimes, the best "consultants" are already on staff, waiting to be discovered.

Look around.

Listen hard.

You'll find them.

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