The best way to begin discussing leadership is to start with a quote by Warren G Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”.
Whether you lead a logistics operation or small business, this is often the most difficult thing to overcome. There is a big difference between leadership and management. Most leaders cannot manage, and most managers cannot lead; it’s why they are in the role they have. It is rare that to find someone that possesses the exceptional ability to do both. If you have both, with the addition of a little bit of luck, with some good ideas, and good people around you; you can go far. But what if you don’t? What if you have a great idea, but have a hard time rallying others around you to your cause? What if you are in charge of an operation or a manager at a small business, and want to move up, but are experiencing hardship getting people to handle their responsibilities? This does not mean that you are destined to be stuck where you are. Read on readers!
The development of proper leadership methods is essential to being a good manager or leader. I would like to use the current state of the US government as an example of poor management AND leadership. I am not surprised that we have a deficit that is ever increasing. Law is the most common prior profession of people in congress followed by public service/politics according to the CRS (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41647.pdf). Economics and how to manage a budget is not stressed in their prior experience and course work. That is why congress presents more laws and government as solutions to our tough economic problems, but it’s not their fault, it’s all they know! Because government can run an infinite deficit, they can get away with this. Business and logistics operations cannot run infinite deficits. Our 30th president J. Calvin Coolidge also had a background in law, what he did differently was surround himself with experts in economic policy like Barnard Baruch and Andrew W Mellon. More importantly what he did was listen to advice. In the book Mr. Baruch, by ML Coit; it is written on page 355 that receptivity to advice was a saving grace to him. In crafting economic policy that led to the roaring twenties, known as the Coolidge prosperity, he sought out economic advice from experts in that field, not his.
How does all of this relate to leadership, small business and logistics you ask? A good leader or manager knows that they themselves do not know everything. Rather than going out on a whim or using methods of trial and error, to be effective in this economic climate means that you make the right decision the first time; you only get one chance.
Going back to Coolidge, he believed we were a nation of laws. As president he believed it was his job as chief executor to enforce the constitution as it was written, and only that. He believed the constitution was written to keep government small and focused; that was how he governed. As a business owner or logistical operator; you would be wise to produce a list of articles (think of it as your constitution) that you and everyone else at your operation or business are held to as a standard. There should be no double standard; if it is good enough for you it should be good enough for everyone else and vice versa. After you decide what should be in your operational constitution, and what should not; discuss it with advisors that are experts in their field, like myself. Once it is ready, unveil your new standard of business to your employees. Doing this once, the right way, will blow your colleagues away, and help set you apart, internally, from your competition. The exception here is if your workforce is part of a union. In that case before unveiling a standard it is wise to review the union contracts (with outside experts) and procedures that you can and cannot have or ask of labor on a jobsite.
A mentor in operations management once told me “I only have one mode, KILL; you would be wise to adopt that as well”. It is true that a change in the way of thinking must sometimes take place to truly correct shortfalls within your management or leadership abilities. Through operational observation, and through analysis of current written procedures, you can easily find the problems and solve them.