The Leadership Imperative -
Observations and Insights
by Rick Sidorowicz

On the gaps in performance: 
It is relatively easy to identify the gap between what you have now and what you know you must have. What needs to be done can be seen clearly. It’s how to do it that is the challenge.

On having the worst of both worlds: 
Larger competitors can out-muscle us. In head to head competition they can out-advertise us, out-price us and put us out of business. Smaller local and regional competitors can out-perform us in terms of superior service and quality, and can out-hustle us in the local markets. We are too big to have the advantages of the smaller competitors, and too small to have the advantages of the bigger ones. We are therefore very vulnerable.

On the fruitless search for the ‘fix’: 
The awful truth is that there is no perfect outside ‘fix’. Each person and every organization must write their own unique ‘cookbook’.

On the misguided attempts to ‘fix them’: 
Leaders do things to ‘fix’ the organization and the people in it. Much of their self worth comes from their personal singular accomplishments. Creating the agenda and then motivating ‘them’ - perpetuates the self fulfilling prophecy.

I got what I wanted, but I need something different now: 
I built this place, I set it up, they were my brilliant strategies, my innovative product ideas, my customer service mentalities. If I was personally responsible for all the good ‘stuff’ of the past success, I am also responsible for what I am getting right now. If it isn’t working right, right now, it’s my responsibility. My not-so-brilliant decisions, the structures and practices I put into place, and my style and needs as the leader are causing the effects that frustrate me today. If I want different results, I have to change the way I lead.

On the fallacy of ordering change: 
It is difficult for loyal and committed ‘soldiers’ to meet new expectations immediately. They’ve been trained one way and now you expect them to behave another way. Making the same decisions you would in a situation is more of the same - since everyone knows you like your decisions better than anyone else’s. Change takes time.

What am I about to do that is probably wrong? 
Instinctive reactions, based on past learning and especially past success, can lead to great difficulty when the current reality is different. Instinctive reactions, which got you to where you are now, will not get you to where you need to go from here.

Success is often the enemy: 
Yesterday’s success can compromise the work that is necessary to meet tomorrow’s challenges. What we want to become is the ticket as opposed to what we were or even what we are.

On the ‘visioning’ of leaders: 
Leaders are responsible to develop a vision. Leaders take the responsibility to implement it. Leaders ‘empower’ their people to use the vision. The fundamental mind set of leaders having the responsibility for performance creates the self limiting cycle where performers are not responsible for their performance. The solution is to turn it upside down.

On how to be an effective leader: 
Become a more effective leader by increasing the effectiveness of the people you lead!

The Leadership Imperative is a series on self directed action inspired by the work of James Belasco and Ralph Stayer in The Flight of the Buffalo, Warner Books, New York, 1994.

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in The Leadership Imperative in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 1998 by Rick Sidorowicz. All rights reserved.

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