Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Are YOU a True Leader? by Al Walsh

Are You a True Leader, or Just An Acronym-Tosser?
Getting with the Program. Don't Stick you head in the sand!

There are many good business tools in use today for growing and improving businesses:
ERP, Lean, TQM, WCM, Six-Sigma, JIT, ISO, etc.
Some have been around for a long time, and some are relatively new.
These tools all address goals that business people have been trying to achieve since time immemorial. The major difference now is that information technology has improved to the point where it’s possible to develop business intelligence and process control on a scale previously unthinkable.

These tools & practices are becoming commonplace in the business world.

If you think you’re immune, you’re probably in for a rude surprise; even if you’re a small company. Shrinkage of the “supply-chain” world is forcing companies at all levels to implement them. You might get by “under the radar” for awhile as a small business, but eventually your customers are probably going to force your compliance if you want to keep their business. Likewise, you will be forced to impose these conditions on your vendors. Anyway, why you wouldn’t want to use every tool at hand to improve your business is beyond my comprehension. Certainly you want to use them wisely, and improper use can actually be destructive, but such investments can garner huge benefits.

So, that brings us to the question of what type of leader you are:
We’ve all experienced them - the people who throw acronyms around freely to impress, without having any comprehension of what they mean. Are you one of them?
We’ve also encountered those who summarily reject all such resources because they’re “too expensive” or “too complex for our business”, or for some other blanket reason.
I suppose there are also a few sheltered people out there who have no idea what I’m talking about (Good luck to you!).
Do you comprehend the myriad of good tools available to improve your business, or is your head firmly implanted in the sand?
If you’re behind the curve, it’s time to “wake up and smell the coffee”. Not only do you want to avoid getting caught napping by your customers, but you’re probably missing out on real fundamental opportunities. I’m a firm believer in exercising constraint in these matters. If you don’t really need a “fancier system”, or if things are working well and “don’t need fixin” - then by all means you should exercise caution. But what about tomorrow - How are you going to get your business to “that next level”?
If you’re just throwing acronyms around, you obviously are conscious on some level that these things have value. Isn’t it time to learn what they’re really about? I’d bet your competition knows. Most likely someone within your own company does, and is going to figure out what a phony you are; if they already haven’t.
If you’ve summarily dismissed all of these tools on some “intuitive grounds”, it’s time to take wake up and take a fresh look.
I mentioned in a previous blog that effective leadership involves taking a forward-looking posture; planning, setting goals, anticipating changes, and always looking for opportunities to grow the business & shine. There are tools & processes out there that are just “itching’ to help. It’s time to take a hard look at them.
For the sake of your business - for the sake of your career - become informed. Those businesses facing possible hard times in the current economy should especially be paying attention to tools that can make your company leaner and meaner. Your competition will!

Al Walsh is a Los Angeles area "Unrepentant Capitalist".
CAREER ROLES:~ CEO - V.P. - CFO - COO - Entrepreneur~ Executive Committee & Board Member~ Partner and Advisor to CEO's, COO's & Boards~ Multi-Disciplined Consultant & Contractor


R.K.C. said...

I would like to hear more on this subject, where possible using specifics. It's hard now a days to name names and we are all afraid of getting sued in some mass litigational blast, but if we just speak in generalities people don't get the value.

How about some real life examples of leadership or lack of it in the big financial houses.

Warren Bennis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Warren Bennis said...

Warren Bennis said...
A leader is shaped by his team.

From Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, Marshall Schjool of Business, USC as seen in Lessona Learned, Harvard Business School Press

I, like most other people of my generation, went into the army when I was eighteen - I was three weeks away from being eighteen - and actually enlisted.

I went to UCLA to become a sanitary engineer - which basically means digging bathrooms, latrines for people in the front lines - and I was totally unsuited for engineering. Luckily they ended the program not because of my inadequacy or incompetence, but they had realized in 1940, that there was going to be a big invation that was going to start in 1944, and they would need hundreds of thousands of men - mainly men; there were just a few women then - to open up the front in France and Germany. It was called D-Day.

So they ended the sanitary enginerring program, and I volunteered for officer candidate school and went through four months of training at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia - what's sometimes called Benning School for Boys".

Four months of the best education I've ever had. Hard. I say that because if you evaluate education in terms of preparing you for what you're going to do inthe future, Ive never had a better education than those four month in Fort Benning to prepare me for being a platoon leader in the infantry.

What I learned, then, was how powerful that band of brothers was for shaping me. I began getting very interested in the idea of the power of groups, the power of the bond.

I think most of what we call courage and bravery is a function of belonging to a group for which you will take a bullet for somebody else. I did not think and still don't think I am a brave or courageous person, but I think that my platoon made it possible.

This is really a profound aspect of leadership: the understanding that the power of really feeling the trust and camaraderie of a group, understanding what a group is, and being part of a group- being bonded- can allow people the license to be at their best.

The above are excerpts from Straight Talk from the World's TOP Business leaders, Leading by Example. Harvard Business School Press

Al Walsh said...

Response to R.K.C. from the author:

My interest is in sharing thoughts that are hopefully helpful in developing careers & businesses. There is no benefit in dragging peoples' or companies' names through the "mud". Whereas I might quote a negative circumstance to make a point, my focus is on the positive. I hope those who made those past mistakes learned from them, just as I hope you benefit from my article.

Al Walsh said...

Warren Bennis's comments are very apropos to the times. Humans are social animals, and do their finest work together. There is no nobler human effort than group assemblage and leadership. This will be an opening theme in my upcoming book. Too often, the focus these days is on self. We all need pursuits bigger than ourselves to add true meaning to our lives. I also experienced tight comeraderie in the military; and have enjoyed a few, very special group relationships in the business world. They mad me feel as if we could accomplish anything.