“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” —Winston Churchill
This quote reminds us that too many times we become enamored with the beauty of our plans, strategies, and ideas, yet fail to really accomplish anything. As Churchill suggested, we need to keep our eye on the end result.
How do you get things to happen? We have a tendency to rely on things that have been labeled “critical, but insufficient”. Sometimes organizations look to legal reasons. “This should be done because the legislature has said that it should be done.” However, as important as the law is, we don’t always abide by it. If someone doesn’t follow the law, we have the option of filing a complaint or creating a lawsuit, but that may not really result in something being accomplished in a timely manner.
Sometimes we rely on the power of position. A boss gives an order to an employee to do something and wants it done because, “I am the boss.” Sometimes that is a successful approach, but not always. A recent study on effective leadership identified this as one of the common traits of ineffective leaders. Ineffective leaders rely on “positional authority”. It would seem to make sense, but it doesn’t often work.
Sometimes we rely on the power of conscience and character. We hope that regardless of the contracts or the boss’ wishes, a person will execute his/her job because of pride. “How can he/she just not do the job?” we ask ourselves, incredulously. That’s a good question; that’s a sensible question, but we are not always sensible people. I asked my son, a recent college graduate, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about ‘the real world workplace?’” His answer was simply, “Nothing gets done if a person does not want to do it.” He’s learned quickly that things don’t get done just because they are supposed to, no matter what the law, the boss, or the conscience says.
The same study that suggested that frustrated managers rely on the power of position, suggested that effective managers rely on the power of relationship. The truth is that people are not motivated by the law of the land, and they may or may not have a good work ethic (conscience), but relationships matter to everyone. It’s true within your organization, and it’s true outside of your organization. If you want to get things done, build strong relationships. Perhaps that sounds like a strategy that’s a bit too soft, but Churchill’s words still apply.
My guess is that the most logical, reasonable, and sensible strategy that you can create pales in comparison to the power of relationship to actually get things done.