Travel log: Jan Mouton from Washington (6)
The Path of Least Resistance for Managers
On the 4th and 5th of June, I followed a programme on leadership by Robert Fritz, who amongst other things, wrote the successful book “The Path of Least Resistance for Managers, Designing Organizations to Succeed” and “The Managerial Moment of Truth.” Fritz’s target audience was made up of CEO’s on the one hand and executive coaches on the other.
Three remarkable moments from the two-day workshop were:
- 1. What are the organising principles of leadership?
- 2. What do CEO’s expect from their coaches.
- 3. The CEO’s work /life balance
1. What are the organising principles of leadership?
- Aim for sustainable growth rather than short term profit maximisation. Short term profit maximisation almost always undermines the future development of the organisation.
- Focus on results, not only on solving problems. Solving problems does not lead you to what you want and so you will not achieve the result you are after.
- Know what is going on in your organisation. Act in accordance with the truth and reality of your organisation and expect the same from all management.
- Create a learning organisation where core competences are cultivated at organisation level.
- Create a spirit of professionalism. The leader can make it happen, whatever the circumstances are.
- Have the drive to build something up in a certain period of time.
- Be visionary, have a constant focus on the major direction the company wants to take and the role you the leader plays in that direction. Always know what your current position is in relation to that major direction.
2. What do CEO’s expect from their coaches.
I don’t often have the opportunity of sitting alongside CEO’s and being able to directly ask them what they want from a training session. So when the chance came, I did not hesitate to ask them what they want from executive coaches.Here their feedback:
- Executive coaches should most of all be someone to talk to
- EC’s need to be good listeners
- EC’s need to be able to see the whole picture
- EC’s need to be able to provide unbiased feedback
- EC’s need to help think through the problem rather than provide immediate solutions
- EC’s understand the reality the coach is faced with
- EC’s help separate emotions from fact so that leaders only react to the facts
3. The CEO’s work /life balance
Because CEO’s are faced with extremely busy agenda’s, they often seek help from an EC to come to a better work /life balance. A couple of principles might help here:
Balance is not the same as symmetry
The concepts balance and symmetry are often confused. When we talk about balance we refer to a situation where time and quality are appropriately proportioned. The quality of personal time can compensate long term absence for example. The point is that aiming for equal amounts of personal and professional time might not be realistic but keeping them in balance is.
Involve your loved one in your life’s design
Share your experiences with your partner and ask your partner to do the same. Develop common goals you want to achieve together.
The key is to focus
If, as a CEO, you a lot of different things to focus on, focus on one thing a time. Be completely present in what you are currently doing, finish it completely and don’t come back to it, once you’ve finished it. Change channel and focus on the next topic. Avoid multiple foci and free association. Focus your attention on objective facts rather than subjective ones.
Having focus rather than being overwhelmed
When faced with too much information, it is hard to remain focused. Be selective in what information you actually absorb.
Work with patterns and outlines; avoid excessive detail and vagueness
Try to see patterns and reduce your workload to its bare essence. Too many details slow the process down. Avoid being vague, as vagueness can not lead to good results.
Always know what you want, where you are today and what you want to realise
Keeping this mind, will help you ban unfocused behaviour saving you a lot of time.
19 Jun. 2009