Peter Drucker is attributed with describing the distinction between managers and leaders – managers ensure things are done right whereas leaders ensure the right things get done. It stands to reason that leaders are also responsible for ensuring the right people are in the right place at the right time to get the right things done.
Jim Collins, in his book, Good To Great made the phrase somewhat famous of ‘having the right people in the right seats on the bus.” The premise was that having the right people in the right role would do more to achieve “greatness” than having the best thought-out strategy or vision.
If it is so important and critical for success to get the right people in the right place at the right time, (and I strongly believe it is) why can’t organizations seem to do so? If you agree with my assertion above that the leaders are responsible for this, I’d like to suggest a few possible reasons:
1.) Leaders tolerate under performers – Unfortunately, many of today’s leaders take the approach that 50 or 75% of performance is better than having the position vacant, so they muddle along actually being managers, where they focus on getting things done right, such as correcting or actually doing what the under performing employee(s) should be doing. In this day of regular cost cutting, many leaders and managers take the approach that if the position is vacant, they will loose the headcount in the next round of budget cuts or rightsizing.
2.) Leaders are too busy with their own tasks to actually lead – Today, many companies are turning leaders back into managers who have a lot of their own tasks, so they don’t have the time to lead anymore. They get focused on the immediate fires of the moment, creating a large void for real leadership. Managers have become more reactive task masters than leaders.
3.) Leaders don’t want to make waves – With some notable exceptions, many leaders today don’t want to rock the boat for fear they will be considered as rebels and be caught up in the next wave of cost cutting. Given the economy and the job market, they are worried they will be out looking for a new assignment with a plethora of competition. They have lost (assuming they once had) their “leadership risk taking” competency.
What to do?
As a CEO or other senior leader, you must grab hold of this condition and take a serious and realistic assessment. Do you have the right people in the right place at this time? After that assessment, you may realize that you have some holes or gaps. If you want to be more profitable, have multiple competitive advantages, a highly talented workforce and customers clamoring for your products or services, having the right people in the right place NOW is the only way to achieve these outcomes.
Would your organization be different if…
• …your under performing leaders were transformed into exceptional leaders?
• …you could determine why employees are unmotivated or disengaged?
• …you could eliminate poor hiring, placement or reassignment decisions?
Of course, the answer is YES, your organization would be quite different. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me directly and we can discuss it.