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Leadership Fantasy 13b

October 10, 2007

Ok, I run into this fantasy a lot.  It probably should be higher on the list than 13b, but here’s what it looks like.  “There are leaders and followers, and effective leaders get the best people they can, set high goals and expect them to figure out how to reach them.”

You may be wondering, “Where’s the fantasy in that statement?”

There’s actually lots of truth to it, but the fantasy is in the expectation, which I see often leads to frustration and tension. 

Here’s what the reality of effective (performance improvement) leadership looks like to me… Effective leaders get the best people they can, they do set high goals…. And get this…. “THEY SPEND LOTS OF TIME DOING FOLLOW-UP TO ENSURE GREAT RESULTS.”

I don’t think most leaders I work with initially realize they are operating with Fantasy 13b.  It fits their environment, where’s there’s lots more to address on any given day than they can get to.  It’s also fits being a little or a lot ADD, so the preference is to attend to the next new thing, not do repeated follow-up to ensure people are on track, to remove obstacles that crop up, etc.

What if effective leadership looks like 20% working the NEW and 80% doing effective FOLLOW-UP?  BTW, the effective part of follow-up isn’t reading status reports, or sitting in operational review meetings.  It’s asking the questions that get to why people are doing what they’re doing, where they expect to get to next, and them knowing that you’ll be reviewing what happened when they get to next. 

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