Too often we are looking for visionaries to solve our problems, and overlooking the power and potential of good operators. Instead of focusing on the fundamentals of management and leadership, we are hoping for some form of business miracle.
Our society tends to elevate visionaries to mythological status. We view them as miracle workers with insights and ideas that are beyond the earthly limitations of the rest of us. We put them on the covers of magazines and their every utterances are parroted, analyzed and promoted on social media.
True visionaries show up once in awhile. You just can’t count on it. Run an ad seeking to hire one and see what you get. Fair warning: charlatans are to be found in ample supply.
Sadly, the supply of old-line firms and pieces and parts of yesterday’s conglomerates requiring reinvention or rejuvenation is plentiful. Many of us work for one.
Perhaps it is time to focus on good management and leadership via good operators. As a reminder, here’s what good operators do.
Ten Key Behaviors of Good Operators
- Run lean operations (Lean as in slim or the opposite of bloated.)
- Manage cash like it is precious. (It is.)
- Partner with customers to understand their businesses and challenges at a detailed level. (Go figure.)
- Build strategies around a blend of customer insights and a carefully cultivated view to the future. (They often don’t provide the answers, they enable and hold their teams accountable to finding the answers.)
- Invest in technologies and offerings that reduce customer burdens and help them move forward in their own businesses. (Go figure, part 2.)
- Fire unprofitable customers, shed irrelevant operations and put stakes in people’s pet projects with ferocity in order to free up critical resources. (If it is irrelevant it goes.)
- Engage in a constant dialog with the workforce. (Some telling, but mostly listening and then supporting/enabling.)
- Put the right people in the right roles to do the right things. (Job 1.)
- Invest in their people. (Job 2.)
- Focus on improving in every aspect of the business every single day. (Job 3.)
The Bottom-Line for Now:
You can label them as leaders or managers. In my mind, they are good operators using all of the tools of leadership and management at their disposal. And they are more critical than ever.
Art Petty is a popular speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.