Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I typically say that “I help leaders who are struggling with the tactical, practical aspects of getting important things done.”
I know that leaders also must set the strategy and understand the big picture of their companies. But, as John McClane found out, it’s hard to stop a group of terrorists when you can’t find your shoes.
Being organized and tactically effective does not mean that a leader is bogged down in details. An organized leader knows that without good execution, lofty goals will simply remain…well…lofty.
So, other than the strategic stuff essential to being a good leader, they must also:
Be (somewhat) predictable.
Disorganized leaders are very unpredictable. They will delegate tasks at the last minute, forget what they’ve told you to do, and lose track of the status of projects.
Working for a disorganized leader is stressful and not as fun as the leader may think it is. Projects get stopped, started, interrupted, and sporadically completed.
The best advice I was given as a new leader was to remain calm. A mentor told me that when a panicked employee came into my office, I needed to serenely help them see a solution to their problem.
My clients find that effective time and task management are key components to remaining calm. Being interrupted isn’t as stressful when you have strategies to get back on track quickly. Organized leaders have fewer surprises, such as missed deadlines and blown budgets.
I worked with a leader who kept her own project folders for every single project that her staff was working on. She maintained duplicate information.
During one of our sessions, she realized the message that she was sending: I don’t trust you to keep track of the information related to your own projects.
She promptly divested herself of the duplicate folders. She really did trust her staff to do their jobs well, but her actions said otherwise.
Is the problem with competencies or tactics?
Many leaders are promoted into their positions due to exceptional performance as an individual contributor. They were excellent at Snookelflaken so they now manage all the Snookelflaken-ers. They likely need to develop their competencies as a leader.
Other leaders have the right competencies but fail on the tactical end. They set a beautiful vision, get people on board, then wreck their own plans upon implementation.
And, there are leaders whose tactical shortcomings make them appear to lack the competencies to lead. One example of this is micromanagement (a.k.a. snoopervising).
I find that micromanagers are often just disorganized people trying to appear in control of things. Helping a leader better manage their tasks and the 1:1 meetings they have with their employees can remove the need to micromanage. Leaders stop snoopervising because they feel more in control of their world.
Productivity improvement isn’t just for the Snookelflaken-ers. It isn’t just for assembly lines or call centers, either. Productivity is the key to execution.
Take me to your leaders.
Tactical, practical execution is a missing piece of many leadership development efforts. We teach competencies (good), we give feedback (good), but we expect a leader to have somehow gained all the skills they will ever need to implement the strategies we teach them.
I can help. I can work in concert with leadership coaches and leadership development programs to help people be more effective where the proverbial rubber meets the road.
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Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-417-2505.Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.