Accelerating Progress

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

It won’t be long before excessively busy schedules, endless meetings and heavy workloads again become the norm. Before that happens, there’s an opportunity to assess your, and your business’, journey from “what is” to “what can be.” It’s an exercise that can help accelerate your progress in 2022. 

Like most leaders, the professional portion of this evaluation often touches on your three primary functions:

  1. Your management role – the responsibility for guiding your people to achieve goals and other defined outcomes on time, within budget, and in accordance with company values;
  2. Your talent development role – the responsibility to coach and mentor your people to reach their full potential in a manner that benefits the individual and the business;
  3. Your business improvement role – the responsibility to influence and inspire your people to engage in proactive change initiatives intended to improve the value created for the business and your customers, but with outcomes that are typically uncertain.

Progress with each of these three functions is dependent on your relationships. And, as a leader, the challenge is that you’re expected to optimize the investment of your people’s time, your most expensive resource and most sustainable competitive advantage, as you strive to accelerate the company’s progress and strengthen its sustainability.  

It’s this ROI obligation that makes executing the 3rd function of leadership the most challenging – it’s this function that separates leaders from managers. Change is risky; its direction may be certain, but its outcome is not. This uncertainty, and the related disruption, is what causes people to resist change. Then there’s the factor of time; people are busy, so convincing them to invest some of their limited, discretionary time in pursuit of a risky, proactive change proposition occurs only when they feel respected, valued and confident.  

Threats may compel reactive change, but convincing people to engage in a proactive change initiative relies on a leader’s credibility and influence. Key to this process is explaining the purpose for a change and how it generates progress towards something better that benefits all stakeholders. Encouraging a dialogue about the purpose helps your people discover how their efforts contribute to progress, enabling them to better manage their sense of risk, and commit to the change. 

The impact of purpose on achieving commitment often depends on the change’s projected outcome. Change initiatives that can boost revenue – new products, faster shipping times, quicker time-to-market, more urgent and accurate responsiveness to customers, greater throughput – tend to produce recurring, sustainable benefits that typically deliver a more acceptable ROI on the people investment than those which focus exclusively on one-time cost reductions. 

May your progress in the new year deliver a healthy, meaningful and prosperous 2022. 

How are you planning to accelerate progress in the new year?

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