Reliable Experience, Credible Expertise, Transformative Enabler
Growing up in the corporate jungle, I observed people, motivations & outcomes and I developed some of my own insights into successful people. I tried to connect the underlying patterns & triggers and found that there are 3 primary patterns of successful people at work. The patterns are not mutually exclusive. There are very few people who transcend all three patterns and those people typically turn out to be the leaders amongst this very successful group.
Just Do It – The Task Leaders – Getting Things Done, Delivering output
Given a defined solution to a defined problem, they excel at the execution of the solution and help achieve the intended outcome.
It appears simplistic but the ability to ensure successful execution of a defined solution needs a lot of planning, discipline & focus. As they say, the devil is in the detail. The variables may be defined and measurable, but Murphy is always lurking. The ability to get into extensive detail on defining, planning and executing the agreed plan-of-action defines success. Such people also develop a strong ability to make quick on-ground tactical decisions to enable successful achievement of the outcome. They also develop the experience to anticipate implications and consequences of typical/pre-defined variables. For example a top-notch event manager would know the 20 things that can go wrong in event execution and would have built plans around that experience. They would also have back-up plans for each of these failure points in their business task.
More than 80% of all those who are successful @ work fall in this category. They are seen as experienced people who have seen many business cycles. Their wisdom is associated with their ability to deliver predictable outcomes in the context of well defined variables. Typically they create scale and replicability in business models and are activity centric in their approach and metrics.
The Problem Solvers – The Solution Leaders – The fixers – Defining Options
They have the ability to define a solution for a well defined problem.
Successful people in this category have the ability to simulate interdependence of variables and visualize the potential consequences and outcomes. They combine their experience and their scenario building capabilities and render solutions to business problems. There are varying degrees of scenario management that separate the level of leadership impact they create. For example most of them would be able to simulate business impact scenarios of their solution options and weigh the pros and cons. However few of them will also be able to weigh in the implications on human capital. Even fewer will be able to visualize the implications on larger ecosystem like the social fabric, the environment, the political implications & future sustainability etc. Those who visualize the 360degree impact of their business scenarios tend to be able to articulate the solution and its desired and undesirable consequences to all the stakeholders, enabling sensitive business decisions rather than purely ruthless economic decisions.
People in this category tend to rise into senior decision making roles in most organizations. They also tend to grow faster than the Task Leaders since they typically expand their supervisor’s capacity for problem solving, even when they are in the Task focused roles. People in this group also tend to be identified as experts. Their expertise is leveraged to solve business problems, with simple or complex ecosystem of consequences. They occupy most leadership roles in the corporate world and define structure, process and measures for predictable and repeatable business success.
The Growth Leaders – The Thought Leaders – The Builders – The Possibilities Artist
This successful group of people tend to focus on the articulation of the problem definition (and hence the opportunity definition). They cut through clutter and connect patterns and outcomes that appear seemingly unconnected. They focus on underlying issues rather than superficial symptoms. They epitomize proactive and not reactive. They create paths and beliefs. They engage people emotionally and empower them with a compelling vision of the future. More importantly, they articulate the future state in a manner in which each individual or role holder can visualize their future role and growth. They expand mindsets, markets, structures, perspectives. Through the expansionary approach, they create alignment, since the team focuses their collective energy on creating space for everyone (and themselves) rather than fighting for territory, control, recognition and reward within the same current pie.
The people in this category are extremely self assured. Their deep sense of purpose is both intimidating and differentiating. It creates the anchor for alignment. The purpose can be social, scientific, artistic, political etc. They are less than 2% of the successful managers group. They are change agents, catalysts, transformation artists.
Leaders, who can transcend the 3 phases, tend to create disproportionate impact. They handle the well-defined as well as they help define patterns in the chaos. They distil music from the noise & clutter around us. They embody the sense of direction, purpose and stability that helps other humans align. They create cults resulting in creation of a new culture. They are the kings of modern society, the economic kingdoms that they create carry their idioms, their stories of success, their theorems. They travel the path from Delivering output to Defining options and Enabling possibilities.