Tag Archives: good leaders

Successful Leaders Don’t Focus on All the Details

4 Sep

What if a leader’s job is to look at most things out of focus?Leaders Don't Focus on All the Details

Typically, we think leaders should have a strong vision, focus on that vision, and help others focus on that vision.

But what if a leader’s job is to keep most things slightly out of focus?

When we hear words like micromanagement, isn’t that an indication that the particular leader doing the micromanagement has gotten too focused on some particular details of the organization? This leader would better serve the organization by bringing a situation slightly more into focus but not making it crystal clear. She or he should keep most things at an arm’s length, slightly out of focus.

This does not mean that someone else in the organization shouldn’t be focused or even hyper-focused on any particular situation’s details. This is why you have many people serving in different roles in the organization. Everyone is paying attention to different details.

Key Differences between Successful and Unsuccessful Leaders

But leaders need to separate the details important to them from all the rest. Leaders need to become comfortable with letting others manage details in areas out of the leader’s focus.

I suspect this is a key difference between successful and unsuccessful leaders. Successful leaders focus on only the most important details and let others manage the rest. Successful leaders have mastered the art of being comfortable with viewing many parts of the organization slightly out of focus.

What Is a Persistent Optimizer?

15 Oct

What Is a Persistent Optimizer?

Once I get a big question in my head, it doesn’t leave. I will drive in to work thinking about insights and answers, spend all day working on solutions, drive home thinking, and then spend my most productive evening hours working on solutions. I will read voraciously the best material I can find about the issue. I will find the experts on the issue, talk to them, and read what they have to say. I will start to zoom in on the large themes and connections I see and develop my own unique response to the question or problem at hand. Though intense, this is fun for me! Finding big answers to big questions is where I gain the most energy.

Persistent Optimization – A Story

In 2007, six months into my current job, I saw that our manual CRM and registration system was not adequate for the future. I saw the trend that people were going to increasingly register and purchase goods and services online. I spent an extra 100 hours outside of my normal work hours in the month of January 2007 analyzing our customer and staff needs, researching potential options, talking to experts, and eventually designing and developing a custom registration and CRM application, from scratch. This was a big and complex problem that was quite fun to solve. We went from 0% online registration to 70% in just one year. We increased our attendance over 30% in the next five years. I estimate that we saved 4-8% in personnel costs, and we drove our mailing costs down to $0 through the use of automated emails and CRM communication functions.

My Strengths

Deep understanding of how to bring value to an organization

I seek out root causes and hate to see surface solutions stall the discovery of root change. I also love data because it gives one important piece of the puzzle when determining whether or not some solution is successful. Data helps you focus on the right things. I know that value is best-measured with supporting data. I bring the highest value to any work because I revel in measuring the details. I design and implement human performance solutions and systems that solve root issues.

Focus on human performance and solutions

I pursued and completed graduate studies in leadership not to simply lead but to discover ways to allow people to perform at their highest levels. I discovered early on in my teaching career that the social and emotional  dimensions of people’s lives are just as important as the cognitive and pyschomotor components. I work to bring good change to people and organizations.

Instinctive ability to work at the highest level

I also love to learn myself and pursue topics of interest as deeply as possible. I am well read across diverse disciplines and am able to walk into any given organization and discern issues and areas of opportunity very quickly, by both observing processes in motion and by talking with leaders, workers, and customers. People want to work with me because they know I am trustworthy and support their success.

Sometimes the Best Way to Lead People Is to Be Unavailable

15 Aug

Availability is different than visibility. You can be visible but unavailable. And good leaders are often very visible. They make their presence known. They let their people know that they are on top of things and present to the organization.

Good leaders are also very approachable but, again, being approachable is different than being available. If you are approachable it means people trust that you will be a good listener, provide insight, compassion, and direction where needed. People know that they can approach you because you have their best interests at heart.

But good leaders are not always available. Good leaders are sometimes away from the day-to-day movement, problems, and successes. Good leaders spend their time thinking through and working through the current big-picture trends. Good leaders step away to reflect. Good leaders step back and make sure they do not have to do any crisis management. They know crises can become addicting. Leaders understand the perspective they gain by stepping away.

Good leaders also know that being too available does not give people a chance to problem solve on their own. Good leaders do not train their people to come to them with all of their problems; some problems, yes, but not all. Good leaders know they must trust their people to solve their own problems.

Good leaders also know that stepping away allows other leaders to emerge. It allows people space to think in a different way because no matter how approachable and helpful a leader is, their words and actions tend to stifle creativity and emerging leadership if always present in problem-solving situations.

When is the last time you led by being unavailable?

%d bloggers like this: