Thursday, March 27, 2014

Destination Is More Important Than Transportation

Which is more important—where you are going or how you get there?
To put it in business-speak terms: which is most important “Doing the Right Things” vs. “Doing Things Right.”

Execution is everything! I ran into this again last night. An “expert” was expounding on the virtues of “execution” as the reason behind the success of every great business.

If execution is everything, then great managers could make any bad idea (or destination) a success. It isn’t, and they can’t. Bad execution can rob one of their successes. It can lower results from what is profitable. However, being in the right place at the right time pursuing the right idea rules the day. "Getting the right people on the bus” may be the way to go from “Good to Great,” but having the right bus to start with is pretty darn important.

The issue of “Right Things” vs. “Things Right” gets to the core difference between leadership and management. There is a definite difference. Many leaders are not good managers—if, by management, we mean masters of execution. Leadership has more to do with being in the right place at the right time with the right idea and then, of course, getting people to believe the vision.

While there is a tendency of management experts to attribute the qualities of “doing things right” to organizations that achieve great success, most achieved that success by having done the “right things.” Unfortunately, time catches up with us. Once others begin to imitate such success, execution becomes the important differentiating factor. “Right thing” leaders like IBM, Federal Express, and eventually even Microsoft fall prey to the imitator with superior execution.

Perhaps the best summary is that Leadership (doing the right things—picking the right destination) is essential for achieving success. Management (doing things right) is required to stay successful.

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For more insight into the mystery of Leadership, read The Language of Excellence now available in print and eBook formats.

Tom Collins’s works include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels, Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders, go to The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

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