High Performance Leadership

How many of us drink Starbucks coffee?  How do you drink it?  Venti Mocha double-shot?  Fat-free Tazo Chi Latte?  We all have our own, special way of having
our Starbucks drink; what happens if you get it and it isn’t exactly what you
ordered?  Not hot enough?  Tastes “off,” for some reason? 
How long does it take for your Barista  (server) to coordinate that “do-over”
decision with the various levels of supervisory management?  How about “instantaneously??”  Those employees have the training to know
what to do, the knowledge to be able to recognize it, and the authority to do
what’s right.  In short, they are
empowered.  Yes, that “E” word.  It’s overused today, but don’t let the fad of
word overcome value in the process. 
Empowered employees make their company’s money.
Starbucks may not know it’s exemplifying high
performance; the company may not realize it is a shining example of effective
principles to run a service retail business. 
They just know it’s good business, and frankly, common sense.
The Principles of High Performance Leadership are just that
– principles.  Basic truths or
assumptions.  They are the essential qualities
that determine characteristic behaviors. 
It’s not rocket science.  They can
help guide your organization toward desired behaviors and business outcomes.
What are we today, then, if not High Performing?  Let’s take a look at “traditional” organizations.  In 1903, a man named Frederich Taylor coined
the phrase scientific management
He and other big thinkers of his time believed that standardization and
control were necessary for organizations to be successful.  For brevity’s sake, we won’t list each
component of scientific management here; suffice to say it was most
everything we have come to resent in a typical workplace.
In the industrial era, Traditional Organizations, and
Scientific Management, worked.  New
manufacturing processes were being developed, mass production was introduced,
quantity was the name and manufacturing was the game.
Today, we have the real need to better use employees, their
talents and abilities, and creativity.  
We need flexibility, integration, synergy.  And we need a common purpose.  Enter the High Performing Leader.  The basic principles – and remember, they are
merely principles, include things like a shared purpose, a holistic
, structure that fits the organization, continuous learning,
employee empowerment, and managers play a more developmental or
facilitation role
The real key to High Performing Organizations is, of course,
leadership.  How much
impact does leadership have?  Does it
help if you realize that the average multi-billion dollar company has a
lifespan of 17 years?  
I’ll say that again: The average multi-billion dollar company has a lifespan of just 17 years…
How about the fact
that one-third of the companies on the 1970 Fortune 500 were not on that list
in 1983?  And 35% of those in 1983 are
not on the list today.  Why?  Typical answers include the influx of
competitors, not understanding customer requirements, under-capitalization, and
lack of business strategy and/or goals.
Clearly, today’s senior managers can no longer do it alone;
they need help and resources from the entire organization, including our
Leadership principles – all of them – have been in use for
hundreds, if not thousands, of years. 
The theory is not new.  Some of
the applications may change over time, but the theory is not new.  Consultants occasionally need to sell a book,
so they’ll take a tried management concept, give it a new name and an interesting
“spin,” and off we go… fad of the month. 
And we sometimes get too wrapped up in this whole leadership versus
management issue.
Let me offer a compromise look at leadership, since I
believe it to be folly to consider an ineffective manager capable of being a
successful leader.  Leadership is the
successful application of sound management practices, effective motivation, and
personal credibility.  All must exist to
be a successful leader.
The principles of High Performing Organizations aren’t a
magical list to tick off, or a series of tables and charts to compare.  It can really be summed up as a combination
of empowered employees alongside successful empowering leaders.  If we can teach both employee and manager to
lead… well, we’re almost there.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann

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