When a new CEO or manager is hired into a company, for a while lots of energy flows from the top and new ideas seem to be generated daily. It is one reason not to fear the unknown when upper level management long in place turns over, often leaving most everyone worrying over how they’ll ever do without their lost leader.
The problem seems to come after everyone settles back into some sort of normalcy and the new senior manager becomes comfortable in his or her position. There is a natural momentum in most companies, one that is usually slow and deliberate. New ideas are vetted carefully, run by a number of departments, considered from many angles and implemented with deliberation. The temporary enthusiasm for cutting through the old way of doing things calms employees into an acceptance that little has changed over time.
The real opportunity for a leader to raise the bar is in the consistency of his or her vision and willingness to accept change for the benefit of the organization. This is true especially when the company is making its numbers and problems are few. There is nothing wrong with consistency. It brings a normalcy to everyone’s jobs that most people welcome. But that normalcy often comes inside a creative vacuum. Competitors often jump into holes created by slowing innovation.
[Email readers, continue here…] I’ve told the story about Bill Conlin before, but it is worth repeating. Bill was the CEO of CalComp, a Lockheed company. Most every Monday morning as he drove to work, he’d force himself to think: “What if this was my first day on the job, and I could make changes without worrying over the past?” Bill’s managers feared those Mondays they say, because that hard-driving enthusiasm for change, for excellence, was like a lightning bolt upsetting the old way on occasion and bringing fresh ideas to the front for consideration and execution.
How many of us fall into the comfortable routines of management, thinking that we have this job down to a science, with the operation running smoothly and without need for much intervention? How many of us have fallen a few notches on the excellence scale over time, accepting our environment as of the last change, happy with ourselves for past achievements toward upping the enterprise?
What would you do if you were new at the job and had no restriction upon the changes you could make for the good of the company? Is there redundancy in levels of management that you’ve tolerated too long? Has the product or service not gained ground against its competitors of late? Are you sure of your marketing and pricing positioning? What about the training and competency of your operational staff?
Want to reinvigorate yourself in your job? Make next Monday morning’s drive a creative thinking exercise in upping your game in your personal fight for excellence.
I enjoyed your post today.
I recall seeing a similar idea about doing it daily. In fact, now that I think of it, I have an affirmation card sitting on my desk (it was buried) that says “I am committed to excellence. Everyday I do something to further my success.”
I for one have 14.23 zillion things to do on a daily basis—approximately. It is very easy for me to slip into crippling overwhelm unless I am very careful. I bet I am not the only one that suffers from that malady. This is more than just time management. It also touches on strategy, prioritization, pacing, belief in self, etc.
MIght make a very helpful discussion topic for a blog or even a lecture.
Every day it is possible to make something change. Get out of maintenance mode, get into change mode – reserve some hours every day for change. I’m expecting everyone to participate and make something change even in what I now run – a much smaller business with not many employees. My staff today look at me like I’m a bit mad.
But I went to the school of hard knocks, a company Dave knows only too well. Change there was not glacial it was not even in gear, the motor was not even running as dysfunctionality pulled managers in meaningless directions. Successive CEO’s could not move against the forces of inertia on a good day and meaningless directives on other days. If this years CEO wasn’t a flake or an egomaniac he’d likely be pronounced dead by any intelligent observer considering his contribution to the planet.
Senior managers were often found discussing the torpor du jour or an asinine request from the legal department suitable only for the trash bin. One day we came to the conclusion that there was only one possible solution . . . “burn the place down”. The system was not worth saving and all our efforts to do the right thing would always run into this immoveable object.
It was not good for the mental health of anyone – ask your employees.