Leadership and Your Management System

Several of my colleagues and I have the opportunity, and privilege, to get to coach CEO’s. Recently we have been comparing notes on the important relationship between developing and maintaining effective leadership and the type of management system a successful CEO, or a senior manager, uses to achieve his business goals.

The one thing we know for sure – execution is key. Great leaders are very good at developing and maintaining execution discipline in their management system. Depending on the size of the organization, they may be very involved or, for large organizations, they may be supervising several C-level positions that do most of the management. Regardless, there is an element of management discipline required for any senior level manager.

Another thing we know about execution – it is not easy. At least not on a long term, consistent basis. This is the performance area with which almost every organization struggles. With the very best intentions, great management processes get started. Then, along comes a big, all consuming, very important project and we call off the team meetings for a few weeks. Then we
don’t have time for the one-on-ones. The next thing you know, we have not had a meaningful progress review meeting for over a month – and our due dates are slipping.

As a senior manager, much of your credibility and support is based on how well you maintain the integrity of your overall management system. Keeping your system working is fundamental to becoming a successful senior manager. If your management system lacks continuity and consistency, so does your predictability and eventually the trust level in your leadership.

As an important step in building integrity and consistency into your management system, it’s a good practice to take a look at your system to see if there are some improvement opportunities. To do that, here is an exercise I recommend to
those I coach:

a. Identify the elements of your management system (i.e., Action Plan, One-on-One meetings, team meetings, budget reports, KPI reports, etc.)

b. Put these elements on a time-line / sequence chart to make your system visible and balanced.

c. Determine the timing of reports and meetings that enables and supports preserving the value and contribution of each element.

d. Evaluate the importance of each element and its contribution to your overall ability to achieve your goals. Rate each element on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being “can’t live without it.” and 1 being “nice but not essential.”

e. Turn this into an overall evaluation of what you need to be working on to create the kind of results that will support you being a great CEO, CFO, COO or any type of senior level manager.

Since I am always looking for ways to improve on a tool like this, I would welcome your feedback/comments. Execute!

Hal Johnson has been CEO of eight companies and has authored three books on business performance. He is Chairman of LEADERSHIPONE, a transition consulting firm. He may be reached at (916) 391-3042 or at [email protected].