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Execution's Four Adjectives


I'm working on the web site today and it's coming along at a good clip. A lot of background work is done and I should have the gallery finished today, and be started on the shopping cart.

During a bathroom library break, I continued my read of Execution, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. I'm getting quite a bit out of the book, and I hit this section today:

Everyone pays lip service to the idea that leading an organzation requires strength of character. In execution, it's absolutely critical. Without what we call emotional fortitude, you can't be honest with yourself, deal honestly with business and organizational realities, or give people forthright assessments. You can't tolerate the diversity of viewpoints, mental architectures, and personal backgrounds that organizations need in their members in order to avoid becoming ingrown. If you can't do these things, you can't execute.

In our years of working and observing in organizations, we have pinpointed four core qualities that make up emotional fortitude:

Authenticity: A psychological term, authenticity means pretty much what you might guess: you're real, not a fake. Your outer person is the same as your inner person, not a mask that you put on. Who you are is the same as what you do and say. Only authenticity builds trust, because sooner or later people spot the fakers.

Whatever leadership ethics you may preach, people will watch what you do. If you're cutting corners, the best will lose faith in you. The worst will follow in your footsteps. The rest will do whatever they must to survive in a muddy ethical environment. This becomes a pervasive barrier to getting things done.

Self-Awareness: Know thyself - it's advice as old as the hills, and it's the core of authenticity. When you know yourself, you are comfortable with with your strengths and not crippled by your shortcomings. You know your behavioral blind sides and emotional blockages, and you have a modus operandi for dealing with them - you draw on the people around you. Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.

Nowhere is self-awareness more important than in an execution culture. Few leaders have the intellectual firepower to good judges of people, good strategists, and good operating leaders, and at the same time talk to customers and do all the things that the demands. But if you know where you're short, at least you can reinforce those areas and get some help for your business or unit. The person who doesn't even recognize where she is lacking never gets it done.

Self-mastery: When you know yourself, you can master yourself. You can keep your ego in check, take responsibility for your behavior, adapt to change, embrace new ideas, and adhere to your standards of integrity and honesty, under all conditions.

Self-mastery is the key to true self-confidence. We're talking about the mind that's authentic and positive, as opposed to the kinds that mask weakness or insecurity - the studied demeanor of confidence, or outright arrogance.

Self-confident people contribute the most to dialogues. Their inner security gives them a methodology for dealing with the unknown and for linking it to the actions that need to be taken. They know they don't know everything; they are actively curious, and encourage debate to bring up opposite views and set up the social ambience of learning from others. They can take risks, and relish hiring people who are smarter than themselves. So when they encounter a problem, they don't have to whine, cast blame, or feel like victims. They know they'll be able to fix it.

Humility: The more you can contain your ego, the more realistic you are about your problems. You learn how to listen and admit that you don't know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn't get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn't keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes. Making mistakes is inevitable, but good leaders both admit and learn from them and over time create a decision-making process based on experience.

I originally thought of four adjectives in terms what we bring to a relationship and what we expect of the other person in a relationship. Both are important. This list, I think, makes for a healthy person, whether they are a leader or not. And this list is a good starting point for both people in a relationship. I'll be chewing on this while I code today...


by Brett Rogers, 1/2/2006 2:43:54 PM


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