Jun 27, 201911:17 AMLeader to Leader
with Terry Siebert
My all-time favorite business book (besides How to Win Friends and Influence People)
(page 1 of 2)
For many years during the holiday season, I would always send out a copy of the most recent, best advice-giving business book to my clients. It was often a challenge to narrow the book decision down to “the best” because there were so many good ones out there. Early on it was Peter Drucker, followed by Tom Peters, Stephen Covey, Marshall Goldsmith, Jim Collins, and Patrick Lencioni. Of course, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie will always be at the top of the top of my list. For the last several years, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath has managed to be at the top of the Wall Street Journal list.
However, the one book that I refer to frequently, and consistently reference in our leadership training, is Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, published in 2002, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Bossidy is a former chairman of Honeywell and Charan is an internationally acclaimed management consultant and advisor to CEOs. The principles of the book are timeless and as applicable today as ever.
One paragraph in their book encapsulates the essence of their message:
“Everybody talks about change. In recent years, a small industry of changemeisters has preached revolution, reinvention, quantum change, breakthrough thinking, audacious goals, learning organizations, and the like. We’re not necessarily debunking this stuff. But unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless. Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, and revolution stops dead in its tracks. What you get is change for the worse, because failure drains the energy from your organization. Repeated failure destroys it.”
They the go on to discuss the “Seven Essential Behaviors of an Effective Leader”:
1. Know your people and your business
When connecting with people, the leader does not just bear good news and appreciation all the time. The leader asks tough questions and holds people accountable for results. Yes, good people want to be held accountable!
2. Insist on realism
Realism is the heart of execution. Unfortunately, many organizations have people who avoid it. Sometimes even the leader plays “let’s pretend” and is in denial. Crystal clear, honest communication of both good and bad news is essential.
3. Set clear goals and priorities
Rather than a Top 20 list, good leaders have a keen sense of the top four or five items on their agenda and they consistently communicate these to their people. Leaders who execute speak simply and directly. People are not scratching their heads about the message.
4. Follow through
Clear, simple goals are meaningless if nobody takes them seriously. The effective leader not only articulates the plan, but always, always follows up in holding people accountable. Remember, accountability done right is a people and business builder.