By Rick Vipperman
We have all certainly had time to reflect on our jobs during the past few weeks and, whether deemed “essential” or not, think about about how we add value to the organization and to others.
I think it is fair to say that we have all, at some point in our career, experienced having a miserable job. Even driving to work was a struggle. And when we arrived at work, the only thing we looked forward to was leaving at the end of the day. The reasons were many, the sense of being under-valued, and therefore under-utilized, our viewpoints, ideas and input were over-looked or not even considered, request for approval to move forward on any kind of initiative was discouraged or ignored entirely, there was no sense of team unity and little or no camaraderie or support for one another. Sound familiar?
In contrast, we have all likely experienced a job or, if fortunate, jobs that we thoroughly enjoyed and loved. We looked forward to going to work, often early, and on the drive into work, we were already thinking of the things that we wanted to accomplish once there. In addition, we were also looking forward to picking up where we had left off with our team the day before. Our team was unified and we enjoyed working together. We all felt that we were part of something special. As individuals, and as a team, we were involved in the decision-making process, listened to and encouraged to share our ideas, input and opinions. We supported one another, celebrated success together, and when possible, enjoyed having lunch or a beer together after work. We were valued, and at every level, we were united!
Which work environment would you choose? Of course we would choose the latter. Leaders create an operating environment that we look forward to going to, not leaving from . . . This unity of purpose kind of environment must be in place first before we can add the management side.
Once the operating environment foundation is in place, the leadership piece, we are now ready to add the management side, one that includes successfully accomplishing our responsibilities. In other words, it is time to take care of business, do the job we were hired to do, and accomplish those projects, tasks and goals in a timely and successful fashion. And that requires the strength of management, Implementing structure, discipline and organization, not delegating and disappearing, being accessible and visible, and taking on more of a supportive, advisor and coaching role. However, without the unified environment, it is much tougher, if not impossible, to compel the team to support our efforts and accomplish tasks in a timely manner. Balancing leadership and management is critical to success. Although this appears simple and almost common sense, so few actually balance these two dynamics well.
James Thurber, one of the great Editorial cartoonist and celebrated figures in the business while working for The New Yorker magazine, had a special way of connecting with his huge fan base of followers. His popularity continued to grow throughout his career, and it was said about him, that people would subscribe to The New Yorker magazine just to see his editorial cartoons and read about Thurber’s opinion on the challenging issues of the day. And he was incredibly talented in capturing the essence of these issues, sometime complicated, in a simplistic, humorous and compelling way.
When Thurber’s retirement was announced, the Editor of The New Yorker planned a celebration event in his honor. The invitation list included long- time subscribers, writers, friends, family, the mayor, and celebrities. During the event, one of the attendees approached the Editor and said “As you, know, I have followed Thurber for years, but quite frankly, I do not understand this big deal over his retirement. Certainly, he is able to capture complex issues in a way we can all understand, but his approach is so simple and uncomplicated and anyone could do it.” The Editor responded, “You are right madam, Thurber is able to capture challenging issues in a way we can all understand, he does not over-complicate matters, he simplifies things for us. And you are right again Madam, anybody could do it, but Thurber’s genius was that, HE DID!!”
To be successful, we have to create an operating environment that generates success, one that combines both the influence of leadership and the strength of management. Now more than ever, as we are in unprecedented times, leaders must bring both of these dynamics to the table. It is not complicated and anybody could do it . . . our genius is when we do!!