The Guiding Principles

One of the topics Ron gets asked to talk about regularly in presentations he gives to the corporate community is around effective leadership and management, remembering that they are both very different concepts.Over the years, through his extensive experience with and research on successful people, he has developed for his own purposes what has become known as his Ten Guiding Principles of Effective Leadership and Management. 

Recruit & keep the right people. They are either on the bus or off the bus

We all talk about the importance of our people and yet managers’ actions suggest that it is no more than lip service. I have always believed that you hire people who will do their job better than you do. Many managers become somewhat paranoid about whom they hire. See it as an opportunity to recruit your successor. Choose well. 

Hire Slowly Fire Fast. Take your time to recruit the right person. This requires a good number of discussions, reference checking, alternative views from others, scenario setting to name a few stages of the process. Conversely, if you have the wrong person, and more often than not you will know quickly, then “fire fast”. The damage you can cause through inactivity can become substantial. Both parties will know if it is not working out. Sound processes will enable you to both hire slow and fire fast.

One of my prescribed readings is a book by Jim Collins called “Good to Great” where he talks about the importance of having people “On the Bus” in terms of your strategy and vision. If they are not on the bus, then you need to get them off it or they will seriously hinder what it is that you are trying to achieve. Getting buy-in is critical and is an art form in itself.

I have always been fortunate that I have surrounded myself with people who make me look good and successful. All I then need to do is acknowledge and reward them, earning their loyalty. If I only need to have one skill as a manager, it is to recruit and keep the right people.

Know your role and be accountable

It is interesting that sporting teams point to their success being anchored by everyone on the field knowing their role and being accountable for it. It is no different in business. The organisational structure needs to be clear and pertinent to the business. Each person needs to know and understand their role in the context of the entire organisation. They need to have a clear Job Description with KPI’s that are directly linked to their objectives within the achievement of the organisation’s objectives. These need to be specific, measurable, achievable with a clear time frame. Each member of the team then needs to be held fully accountable for that role. Providing constant feedback formally or otherwise is also important.

I have developed a model to ascertain and achieve “Organisational Optimisation” which is about making the structure and levers function effectively at a fully optimised level enabling you to determine through a gap analysis any potential risks or opportunities for your business.

Remove the de-motivators

I have often said that my job as a manager and leader is not to motivate people. This should always come from within, if not you have a different issue. My role therefore is to remove the de-motivators that are within my control. They are processes, issues, factors, hygienic or otherwise, that get in the way of good people being their best. I have often said that if you have recruited wisely and bring in a person who has been successful elsewhere and they are not producing the return they are capable of then perhaps they aren’t the problem.  I have become very adept at running through brick walls. 

Plan to succeed

You know the old saying that those who don’t plan are planning to fail. What amazes me is the frequency in which people and organisations set on a path of a project or a business plan without defining clearly what success looks like at the end of it. If you can’t define clearly what success looks like, communicate it and get the buy-in of all the stakeholders then how can you possibly achieve it let alone know when you are there. A great plan not only defines the objectives and a strategy to achieve them, but it has a clearly articulated definition of what success looks like.

No Data. No Decision

Emotion in business is an enemy. It creates blindness and impairs judgement. Gathering the right information is critical to making the right decisions. I am not advocating analysis paralysis, but I do believe very strongly that you need to ensure that you gather the best information available to enable you to make a calculated and informative decision. Data gives you a knowledge base to work from and removes the hazards of the heart dictating the mind.  

If you don’t ask you don’t get

Once again, we know of sayings around “we don’t know what we don’t know” or what happens when you make assumptions. I have seen many examples of people gaining advantage and moving forward by just merely asking. You don’t want to have regrets finding out afterwards that if you had only asked for this and done that certain something that makes the difference. You can ask for anything from and say anything to anyone as long as you remember and respect the fact that it is all in the way that you do that. Learning the art of asking the right questions is key.

A crisis needs a cool head.

The most stressful situations require the best decisions and you can’t make your best decisions when you are stressed. That is when you need to have all your wits and thoughts about you to ensure that you make the right decisions. Great leaders perform at their best in a crisis. It is when they shine.  People around you will look for your strength as a leader in these situations.

WIIIFM: Have a clear value proposition

Too often we are so focussed on what we want out of a situation, deal or outcome that we don’t give enough if any, consideration to what is in it for the other party or parties. We need to be clear on what the value proposition is for the other party or parties otherwise there is no compelling reason for them to commit to what ever it is that you are proposing. The other party in any negotiation or proposal wants their needs addressed before they are prepared to commit. Always assess a situation from the other party’s perspective. 

Communication is key: Get the language right

Rarely can you ever over communicate. People like to be informed. The message needs to be delivered continuously to ensure that everyone remains on the same page. Reinforcement of the key messages is what improves dramatically, the probability of success. In a crisis situation, communication is critical to ensuring that you get through it. It is also an opportunity for leadership to shine, through clear and public direction at a time when it is needed most.

If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it

It is an old saying but still very pertinent today. You need to build in processes that not only determine what the key success indicators are, but how you measure whether they have been achieved. This measurement then enables you to set benchmarks and parameters that enable you to determine how you can then improve them further. Without measurement tools then you are effectively stabbing in the dark. Can you imagine life without accurate measuring tools when buying property, constructing buildings, establishing road rules around speed limits to suggest just a few as examples? Therefore why don’t we apply the same importance to putting in place measurement tools inside our business? Measurement gives us certainty and clarity.