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Results-Driven Leadership > Outstanding Organizational Performance
on May 8, 2008
In the Introduction to this book, Quint Studer makes the following assertion: "Standardize the right leadership practices and you will find that organizational performance improves across the board...and stays improved." More specifically, results-driven leadership at all levels and in all areas will achieve and then sustain outstanding performance throughout the given enterprise. That's obvious. Here's the challenge: To get the right goals, the right behavior, and the right processes in proper alignment. More specifically:
1. Have stretch goals that everyone understands and supports, then measure performance in terms of progress toward achievement of those goals. At all times, know what is most important and focus on doing it.
2. View behavior from two separate but related perspectives: values and productivity. At companies such as GE and Southwest Airlines, for example, there is zero tolerance of inappropriate behavior no matter how productive the given offender may be. At the same time, people are expected to produce results (Jack Welch calls it "hitting the numbers") or seek career opportunities elsewhere.
Note: I agree with Studer that the behavior of all supervisors must be "standardized," at least to the extent that they have impeccable character, know their stuff, provide constructive criticism whenever it is needed, earn and remain worthy of trust, and do everything humanly possible and appropriate in the best interests of those entrusted to their care. That said, allowances must be made for differences in personality, lifestyle decisions, avocations, etc.
3. Make all processes as simple as possible...but no simpler. Many processes streets that remain essentially unchanged (except for occasional repairs) even as residents of homes, merchants and their customers, and students enrolled in schools come and go. This is especially true of the process by which an organization such as the U.S. Marines develops leadership. "Many are called, a few are chosen" and then all receive rigorous formal training with hands-on daily supervision as they are absorbed by the culture and identify with its values, meanwhile strengthening individual skills, enriching personal knowledge, and - over time - adding increasing value to the organization.
According to Studer, "Evidence-based leadership (EBL) enables us to create results that last. What is EBL? It's a strategy centered on using the current `best practices' in leadership - practices that are proven to redsult in the best possible outcomes. The `evidence,' in this context, is the reams of data collected from study after study that aim to determine what people really want and need from their leaders. When leaders apply these tried-and-true tactics to every corner of our organizations, we achieve consistent excellence. Our organization's success is no longer dependent on individuals. It's hardwired. No matter who leaves, the excellence remains."
Throughout his narrative, Studer explains how EBL enables those who practice it to identify and deal with "High, Middle, and Low Performers," recognize the five critical elements employees want from managers, "manage up" to improve the performance of those they supervise, measure performance fairly and consistently, improve employee selection and retention, "harvest" intellectual capital, take a customer-centric approach, and build a culture around service, and serve as a role model for effective communication, cooperation, and collaboration.
Those who share my regard for this book are urged to check out Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management co-authored by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton as well as their earlier book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action as well as Edward Lawler's Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage, Robert Mittelstaedt's Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?: Avoiding the Chain of Mistakes Which Can Destroy Your Company, Michael Levine's Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards, George S. Day and Paul J.H. Schoemaker's Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals That Will Make or Break Your Company, and Sydney Finkelstein's Why Smart Executives Fail and What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes.