Monday, December 10, 2012


In last week's post, I wrote:  "In the weeks ahead, I'll outline ...  an "Owner's Manual" for 21st century small business leaders."

That wasn't entirely accurate.  What's follows over the next few weeks is not a manual, in the truest sense of the word:

Manual [ˈmænjʊəl] adj 
[via Old French from Latin manuālis, from manus hand]
1. of or relating to a hand or hands
2. operated or done by hand manual controls
3. physical, as opposed to mental or mechanical manual labour
4. by human labor rather than automatic or computer-aided means
5. of, relating to, or resembling a manual
1. a book, esp of instructions or information a car manual
2. (Music, other) Music one of the keyboards played by hand on an organ
3. (Military) Military the prescribed drill with small arms

The problem with manuals is that they are so, well, hands-on, in a more or less literal sense, AND they are very basic (find key, put it in ignition, turn on car...) Manuals tell, rather than teach.

What I have found from working with business owners, CEOs and organizational leaders for over 30 years is that the best seek not a how-to, but a map, a compass, a guide to help them navigate.  They are constantly trolling for new experience and expertise and they want guidance on better managing themselves and their businesses.

That desire is reflected in why these leaders conduct themselves and their businesses successfully.  They are focused on the objective, but are open to discovering new, better and different routes to their goals.  They realize that while focus is essential, it is worthless without the ability to execute.

Focus and execution.  Mastering both is essential to bridging what Steven Covey called "the execution gap.What I have learned been taught by my peers attests to that concept and is outlined below:

  1. Start Where You Are:  Know who you are. 
  2. Have a Clear Vision:  For yourself and for your business.
  3. Set Fewer Goals:  Have a plan for each goal, and establish accountability
  4. Kill Complexity:  Focus on driving simplicity.
  5. Coach and teach:  Don't do; delegate.
  1. Invest in Proper Routines and Good Habits:  Motivation isn't a guarantee of success.
  2. Learn to say "no:" Instill accountability
  3. Do not try to replicate yourself:  Hire smarter, better and different
  4. Always be upgrading:  Talent is everywhere, but you must compete for it
  5. Take charge of change:  Change will happen with or without you, why not be in charge of it?

We will expand on each of these elements in the next two posts, and wrap up in time for Christmas.

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