...What Can Be Done.”
Happy New Year!
Over the last few weeks one of the more common comments comes from folks who apparently thought changing over to a new calendar year would suddenly make the challenges of the previous year somehow fade away. The reality, of course, is the issues leaders regularly tackle do not abide by our sense of time. They happen unannounced, they linger until resolved and reoccur if poorly resolved. This inspired the theme of this discussion with the title taken from a conversation between my friend Rick Kolster and Col. Allen West on Rick’s podcast, “The Bald Truth”.
The title is a quote from Col. West during that discussion which got us thinking about what leaders need to focus on to understand what can be done, especially in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. In our experience, we can categorically look at three key areas that form the foundation of understanding what can be done: Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes.
Skills ~ Skills are the basic building blocks of leadership and achieving desired results. They define what can be done and how things are done. We also know skills are generally thought of in terms of hard skills, those teachable abilities and/or skill sets that are easy to quantify, and soft skills, those often referred to as people skills that are more subjective in nature. In order to truly understand what can be done, leaders must first understand the relevant skills necessary to achieve desired results. As this is an ever-changing list, it is common that skill-gaps occur over time as the environment changes. Leaders must address these skill gaps in real time or risk losing ground to their competitors. What are the relevant skills you and your team need to achieve desired results this year?
Knowledge ~ Having the relevant skills is not enough as it does little good to know what to do and how to do it if leaders don't have the knowledge to fully understand when and where to use the skills effectively. Knowledge is the context leaders leverage to effectively and efficiently apply the skills they and their teams have. Effective leaders fully understand how context impacts every decision they make. They are also especially adept at developing their teams’ ability to critically think through the many situations a VUCA business environment presents on a daily basis. The use of the term “developing” here is important as creating contextual knowledge is not a training event, it is a developmental process applied over time such that it becomes ingrained in the team’s DNA. What relevant knowledge do you and your team need to achieve desired results this year?
Attitudes ~ A leader’s attitude is her/his habit of thought and reflects their want to achieve desired results. A leader’s attitude is built upon their values and beliefs and frames the leader’s motivation to understand and focus on what can be done. The real impact is understanding the relative importance of attitude vis-à-vis skills and knowledge. By most accounts, success is 80% attitude and 20% aptitude (skills and knowledge). When considering how best to lead in a VUCA business environment, how much of your leadership attention is paid to developing can-do attitudes relative to the skills and knowledge necessary to compete and achieve desired results? Our experience tells us that most leaders are spending 80% on skills and knowledge or the complete opposite of the impact. What is your spend as a leader?
As you’ve likely noticed by now, we consistently use the term, “Desired Results” throughout this discussion. It is an important distinction in that anyone, quite frankly, can achieve a result. However, effective leaders understand what can be done to achieve desired results. Their focus is to achieve results that are sustainable and align directly to strategic success!
As a leader, how are you and your team going to achieve desired results? If you don’t know, we can help.