Leadership Awareness – Avoiding Einstein’s Definition of Insanity!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

Einstein’s definition of commercial insanity is “continuing to repeatedly do the same things anticipating a different result.”

My Discussion Partner colleagues and I recently felt the need to regroup to insure as Advisors we were not getting intellectually lazy and out of touch with the Essential elements of both enterprise sustainability and the differentiating profile of the “new worker”.  Our catalyst was awareness that we were giving almost verbatim answers to these questions and felt the need to reality check ourselves on the wisdom of our advice.

To that end, we conducted an internal pulsed survey which was later tested with key relationships on three questions:

    1. Are we doing the right things to remain edgy and how do we know?
    2. Are we assuming correctly our insights are relevant and actionable?
    3. Are we focused on those Leadership challenges that if not addressed by clients will act as Strategic Restraints?

Validating that we are at least attempting to focus on the right topics, at the right time, and embedding intellectual curiosity and rigor into our protocols, DPC as is our practice refined our similar points of view into Discussion Points on elements of “Core” as defined as the platform for growth or potential for meltdown on two topics:

    1. Differentiated Enterprise Success Factors
    2. Differentiated Behaviors for New Worker Success

Differentiated Enterprise Success Factors
In respect to Enterprise Success factors, we have an emerging level of comfort that there are three Core Components as follows:

Enterprise Core Success Drivers
The three Core elements DPC have identified are what tongue in cheek refer to as “Triple A” positioning.

    1. Anticipation – being able to identify trends real time in advance of competitors that if pursued enhance the potential for enterprise success – for example an organized process for R&D investment vs. gravitation  towards the loudest advocate for their idea
    2. Agility – the ability to pursue multiple tracks in tandem proficiently, embedding flexibility, ongoing incorporation of lessons learned, and deployment of a Null Hypothesis contingency if corrections are required – for example when to exit a business line
    3. Alignment – consolidation of initiatives purpose built for customers that promote their interests in a sustainable measurable manner vs. a “one off” success decision that ultimately is short lived or possibly even worse, results in disenfranchisement of enterprise wide success – for example a product that may enjoy success as a “fad” but whose success horizon is truncated

For Baseball aficionados the reference to Triple A is not accidental, as is the case in the Sport, the modus operandi of “trial and error” is encouraged.

Differentiated Behaviors for New Worker Success
Core Elements Incumbent Profile
There is no enterprise on the Planet that is not being challenged by the dynamics of the “new worker”.  During our deliberations we asked ourselves the following questions:

    1. Do Boomers and Generation X have attitudes or behaviors that Millennial don’t possess or care to secure?
    2. Are the differences between and among the cohorts the result of leadership deficiencies vs. gaps in attitude or proficiency?
    3. Is it advisable to manage incumbents differently by cohort vs. self-awareness that career progression and aspirations are fluid?
    4. Should managers manifest sensitivity to, vs. modification of various leadership style dynamics?

After much deliberation and arguing, sometimes cordially, DPC has identified 3 Core elements we perceive as the Contributory Differentiators regardless of workforce demographic (Boomer, GenX, or Millennial).

The three Core elements are as follows:

    1. Self Sufficiency – the incumbents ability to function independently, with low managerial maintenance, concomitant with willingness to take acceptable risks while always being prepared to defend decisions
    2. Accountability Obsessive – takes assignment of tasks, and acceptance of same, as personal promises, never deferring to “the other guys fault” or “dog ate my homework” defense for inadequacy
    3. Achievement Oriented – career focused and driven to succeed through collaborative means, eradicating from their personal identity, “for me to win someone has to lose” while recognizing the definition of success in of itself is different by person vs. universal by age

Transitioning Organizations Bifurcation Concept
A call out to the above is that in organizations transitioning, independent of impetus there are always incumbents whom for the moment are essential: but in the medium to long term are unlikely to be aligned with the aspired to proficiency and/or attitudinal model.  The key is to keep these “legacies” productive until such time as they are displaced.  Be advised that how this process is handled is of critical importance as it sends messages throughout the universe these days and to avoid apologies, it is best the incumbent is aware, feels supported and most importantly treated with dignity.

Discussion Partner’s finished this exercise with an awareness that it should be embedded into our on-going methodology review or we will revert from Triple A to Sandlot players very quickly.


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