A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Today and Tomorrow: Managing and Leading

The following article originally appeared in the August newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

In every good company there are two functions that must occur simultaneously, but require different skill sets, and they must become integrated at the CEO and senior management team.  One activity is managing what is under contract TODAY – seeing that schedules and budgets are met.  There is not margin or fee fade; overhead is controlled.  The other activity is doing the things that ensure that the organization will have TOMORROW – creating a clear vision of a desired future, then acquiring the resources and making the changes necessary to realize that future.

In the best companies, both activities are a constant and primary focus of the senior leaders.  Unless a company gets all the nutrients out of what they have on their plate today, they will have neither the financial strength nor the disciplined, instinctive behaviors that will allow them to move to the next level.  If executives are not thinking strategically about the markets and their drivers, the clients and their needs and their competitors and their approach, then the company will miss opportunities to ensure a better tomorrow.  The organization will drift on market momentum rather than drive leadership initiatives that create a better future.

This discussion is timely because of the robust market in Houston.  Times are great, and look like they could last.  It would be very easy for leaders and managers to relax their mental toughness and coast.  Or worse yet, conclude that it is their own brilliance, alone, that is driving these extraordinary results.  Howard Tellepsen, CEO of Tellepsen, has an insightful mantra: “Never confuse timing with genius.”  Larry Brookshire, former Chairman of Fisk Electric, has another gem: “The seeds of failure are planted in the fields of success.”  Both are worth pondering.

On the positive side, however, those senior leaders who make sure that within their companies the basic management functions – planning, organizing, directing and controlling – are occurring daily and deliberately, those leaders will deliver and will optimize TODAY.  And if they also insist that the basic leadership activities – creating a strategic vision, identifying the resources and changes needed, aligning and empowering their team – are also occurring regularly and rigorously, their companies will prosper TOMORROW.

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