Recently, I was rereading two articles in preparation for the third session of the 2013 From Vision to Action Leadership Training. In the first article called “What Great Managers Do” by Marcus Buckingham, Harvard Business Review, March 2005, the author states that great mangers “discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it. Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess. The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves. More important, you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces. Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.”
Right now, as I work with large and small, for-profit and non profit, organizations, I have a discovered a common problem - too many people in management and leadership positions are playing checkers, not chess. They do not comprehend the importance of, and value to their organization of taking the time to play chess. For them, a successful business is based on every one being efficient in how they execute on their goals. Failure is not an option or a learning experience, and all feedback is one way. Furthermore, there is low psychological safety in the work place, and a high degree of accountability, resulting in no innovation, little effective communication, or respect, plus a tremendous amount of anxiety about the future and change. However, if more of these same leaders were to comprehend and understand the importance of “playing chess”, then we would see greater degrees of commitment, motivation and effort through out the organization.
The second article I read in preparation for the third session of the 2013 From Vision to Action Leadership Training was called ““Helping People Achieve Their Goals” by Marshall Goldsmith and Kelly Goldsmith from Leader to Leader magazine, No. 391, Winter 2006. Here, the two authors explore in-depth the common problems around why people give up on achieving their goals. One problem in particular, from my vantage point as a consultant and executive coach, is rampant in the world of leadership and management at this time period. As they explain, “Managers often confuse two terms that appear to be synonymous but are actually quite different: simple and easy. We want to believe that once we understand a simple concept, it will be easy to execute a plan and achieve results. If this were true, everyone who understood that they should eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly would be in shape. Diet and exercise books are almost always at the top of the best-seller lists. Our challenge for getting in shape--as well as changing leadership behavior--is not understanding, it is doing!”
What we forget as leaders and managers of teams, departments or whole organizations is that short and long term change requires real effort. It does not happen overnight and if it did, I suspect it would not be sustainable. The solution is to better educate your current and your potential, future leaders about leadership, strategic planning and execution, and organizational change.
With the above in mind, now is the time to sign up these key people for the 2014 From Vision to Action Leadership Training. Through a challenging, interactive curriculum which blends lectures, selected readings, small and large group discussions, and how to skill-building exercises, participants in this four part leadership training gain critical knowledge and skills which improve their ability to work on the whole of the organization rather than just within the organization.
As many of us know from experience, learning to lead in new and better ways is challenging, particularly for busy leaders. Still, if they understand why this level of learning is important, and how it will be helpful, then they will approach it as a long term investment and development process. As John Maxwell wrote many years ago, “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”
For more information on how to register for the 2014 From Vision to Action Leadership Training, please click on the following link: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Leadership-Training.html
Whether we are learning how to “play chess” rather than checkers, or differentiating between simple and easy, now is the time to prepare more people to become better leaders. The From Vision to Action Leadership Training is a great place to start in 2014.