The synthesis of strategy, operations and tactics in leadership and management is perhaps unique for each individual. However, there are some basic tenants that are probably shared by many. As one example, I provide my approach and framework to outline real-world leadership and management. This begins with my leadership style.

People-Based, Results-Driven

First, what does it mean to be people-based? I have adopted the philosophy that: You lead people and manage things, but it us all about people. Jim Collins (Good to Great, Harper Business, 2011) has put a fine point on this by stating “first who, then what”. This reflects that what is most important in any organizations are its people, but not just any people. They must be the right people. Some of the elements of this are: select the right people, set the right expectations, provide the right tools and training, provide growth opportunities, help them succeed and develop them as leaders. My working premise is that the role of leadership is to develop more leaders to lead people and get results. If this is done well, they will take care of the customers and clients.

Some other elements of successful leadership and management include:

  • “feedback loops” and continuous improvement
  • trust
  • relationships
  • collaboration
  • engagement
  • alignment
  • humility
  • listening
  • common courtesy
  • consistent communication
  • have fun

At more senior levels the responsibilities include setting the vision, values, direction, culture, priorities, establishing a plan with specific and measurable performance measures and coaching within a framework where people can flourish.

There is an adage used in the Army: “people first, mission always”. There has been considerable discourse on how this is done, especially given that soldiers are trained to be sent into harms way in combat. James H. Zenger and Joseph R. Folkman (The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009) studied two elements—results focus versus social skills—and found that great leaders find a way to shift and balance these two foci. A focus on results or social skills alone results in “mediocre leadership”. So, what does it mean to be results-driven? In simplest terms this means achieving specific and measurable goals. The coin of the realm in the private sector are profits while in the public sector it is serving the public good.

Daily Operations

  • “feedback loops” and continuous improvement
  • outreach to employees, clients, client’s-clients, stakeholders and partners
  • ensure trust/relationship
  • ensure collaboration
  • ensure engagement
  • ensure alignment
  • ensure results
  • identify issues, problems, obstacles and fix them
  • balance everything against risks
  • continuously assess employees, new and existing clients, stakeholders and partners
  • remain humble
  • listen first and foremost
  • extend simple courtesy and appreciation
  • communicate a lot
  • have fun

The world is changing and we must change with it. I hope this primer is useful.

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow