The 7 Cornerstones of StreetSavvy℠ Leadership
The topic of leadership has come up more and more in the past month through articles in the popular press and streams on my LinkedIn page. I have commented on several articles – and even commented on the comments – because I think some of the information and concepts are either too simplistic or incorrect.
Leadership has many facets. When you read the leadership gurus like Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis and John Maxwell, they talk about leaders having influence and followers. That is certainly true. For a more current view, I like John Maxwell’s thinking on leadership because he has a more integrative approach covering 21 indispensable qualities of the leader, and 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. He, too, touched on many components of leadership and his insights are excellent. But I don’t believe even he goes far enough.
I want to add to this thinking by talking about StreetSavvy Leadership. This is my take, not from merely studying others and codifying what I observed, but also because I lived it and had both successes and failures as a leader. Regardless of your position in the organization, you will have both success and failure as leader. Witness the rise and fall of luminary leaders such as Jeff Immelt who took over GE and is struggling with the growth of the company.
And let’s look at leaders who were successful in one company but failed to capture success in their next company … or vice versa. I am a NY Yankee fan and remember when the Yankees hired Joe Torre. Torre was not a good manager with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals and compiled records marginally below .500. But with the Yankees, who saw something unique, he was able to win 4 world championships and 2 additional pennants. Granted, they had great players (competencies) in that era as well but Torre was the leader and a lesser manager might not have been as successful.
StreetSavvy Leadership blends theory with reality and execution to garner results. It is leadership within the context of the company and the environment in which the company operates. Leadership without positive results in business is being a pretender. StreetSavvy Leadership means doing things differently than before to grow your business and protect against mediocrity. StreetSavvy Leadership looks at data and transforms data into knowledge and gives that knowledge to the right people closest to the decision point and trusts them to make the right decision. It means setting the right vision and ensuring alignment among all members of the exec team and throughout the organization to execute effectively and efficiently.
Here are the 7 Cornerstones to StreetSavvy Leadership:
Jimmy Dean said: You cannot change the wind but (a leader) can always adjust his sails to reach the destination. How true. StreetSavvy Leadership reflects the Jimmy Dean quote. It is something that can be learned and if used correctly I believe it offers the best chance of success for a company. I would be glad to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment, share and repost and let’s continue this dialog.
The 5F Factors in StreetSavvy℠ Leadership
I attended a roundtable discussion with senior executives regularly and we discuss topics of interest. The topic we discussed revolved around whether a strong leader is not afraid to change his/her mind and under what circumstances they should be flexible in changing course. It appears that many leaders, in order to look strong, set a course of action, and don’t want to change for fear of looking weak and flighty.
The initial discussion centered on the need for clearly setting goals and objectives, continuity of strategy, becoming agile in one’s thinking, recognizing challenges and preparing your team to meet the uncertainty of these challenges, and keeping options open, e.g. predesigning flexibility into your decisions.
Many years ago, I coined the term StreetSavvy℠ as applied to many executive functions. When I worked for founding CEO of US Cellular Don Nelson, Don and I coined the phrase fast, fluid and flexible as we were trying to grow in the young but growing wireless market. I have used that concept over the past many years of my career. This was the start of thinking about the characteristics of what StreetSavvy Leadership is about. Additionally, I have also talked about fast failure in getting products to market. More recently I wrote a blog and did a talk on managing a business. The two words are Focus and PODFU (plan, organize, delegate and follow-up). After participating in this discussion group, I found myself seeing how all these components now come together in what I call the 5F Factors in StreetSavvy Leadership.
These are the five factors I believe that can make leaders stronger and their companies grow.
How does the StreetSavvy Leader manage to implement these 5 F Factors? The primary need is to communicate and have an open dialog with your team and others lower in the chain of command. It is critical for the leader to walk the talk and become Pattonesque in their leadership style. Be on the front lines with your troops. Be visible and be communicative. Ask questions and listen and know that your obligation to your company is to seek new and even divergent information so you have the best chance of building a successful company.
Glad to have other viewpoints.
What the Heck is a Business Battle Rhythm?
As a reader of Sun Tzu and the Art of War, I have been applying the rules of warfare to business and marketing for more than 30 years (hard to believe it is that long but I started as a child prodigy!!). In warfare, there is a concept called Battle Rhythm and usually that goes hand in hand with knowledge management.
A battle rhythm is the heart of military operational management. Effective management means efficiently processing inputs and intent to enable the Commander to make decisive decisions. Knowledge management is less about technology than it is about identifying the right information, putting that information in context of the end game, and then collaborating and sharing information with the right people.
Developing and maintaining a business battle rhythm takes the military concept into the business world and enables an organization – company, division, department, or group – to ingest data, turn that data into knowledge, and use that knowledge to collectively or individually make decisions and put the resources in play to implement those decisions. Business battle rhythms are important because the pace of business today is extremely fast. With the internet and communications technologies available to most companies, even the smallest competitor can outflank a larger competitor to gain an advantage in the market.
The following attributes are needed in a business battle rhythm:
A battle rhythm uses information and decision processes to make business decisions. One way to look at business battle rhythm is through the scheduling of meetings. Each meeting should have a clear purpose, specific outcomes, and specific attendees. In the most simplistic form, let’s assume that a business builds products and services to meet the needs of customers, manages the materials, capital and human resources to build the product and then sells and supports the products/services to customers directly or through distribution.
A battle rhythm can therefore be developed around this business and its basic processes. In large companies meetings are a necessary evil but you want to be focused on the clarity of the objectives of the meeting, the issues to be discussed and the appropriate people in the room to make the right decisions. Here’s an example of a business battle rhythm that we used on a tech company.
The following calendar is representative of a week of operational reviews.
A battle rhythm for other meetings such as skip level meetings, strategic off sites, and competitive reviews, among others can and should be developed. Miscellaneous reviews might be required for different organizational elements and even at different times during the year. Standing meetings are scheduled. Additional ad hoc meetings can be scheduled for specific reasons.
The business battle rhythm is not merely a schedule but a plan, in the case above, for a weekly routine to manage the business. Each meeting has a specific agenda, with a purpose, materials to be provided ahead of time to the participants, a goal, a list of attendees, a place to memorialize the results of the meeting and a listing of the follow-up action items. Organizations within the company can more easily coordinate their activities if they know each other’s battle rhythm.
Every organization from the largest business to the small business should use a well written and developed battle rhythm. While the battle rhythm above is written for a weekly version, the best organizations use a monthly and annual battle rhythm as well.
What are your thought about this concept? Does it make sense or is it too bureaucratic? Feel free to call us to discuss how C-Level Partners can help your company set your battle rhythm.