Leadership Makes Things Work Right

Sour Cream Coffee Cake Mixing Ingredients
You have to mix the ingredients and work it to its purpose to make anything useful. Photo from Recipe Snob’s Flickr photostream.

Putting all the right systems and pieces in play together is a far cry from experiencing success. I had recently watched the movie, Moneyball, again. Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, turns the game of baseball on its head by using analytics and quantitative approaches to assemble a high-powered, low-budget baseball team. He has to do this because he has very little money and he wants to win badly.

In theory, the team should have been winning based on each player’s on-base percentage and statistical piece to the overall puzzle. However, the team that Beane put together experienced a lot of failure. They lost a lot. However, something changed when he got involved and asserted his leadership.

Putting all the ingredients of a cake into a bowl and thinking you have something edible is a false idea. Likewise, the idea of putting talent together and expecting things to work will be disillusioning. It takes leadership to make it all work. The cake takes a baker and someone willing to stir the pot. Your business takes leadership in addition to systems and tools.

In fact, I would dare to say, the leadership part is far more important. Give me a strong leader that knows what they are doing any day over the mere access to tools, talent or systems. It’s why we see superstar teams put together without a championship to show until the right leader makes the vision work.

The Work Part

I can understand the eagerness to try and make things work and then withdraw. This is especially true for those like me that crave freedom and like to work on new challenging projects.

Seeing something through and staying with it is one of the hard parts of leadership. Having relentless vigilance and work focus may have to be part of the deal to get something that lasts and works well.

Too many people prematurely let their foot off the gas pedal and then the work tends to atrophy. The flywheel lacked the momentum to keep the results high.

That tends to be the nature of work. There is entropy. Things bleed through the sides. And we want to hand off or let go too early.

Things don’t just work. They take an immense amount of energy to launch and get started. Then they take toil and attention to weed out the problems and get to the result.

Even after you have things humming, there is a management layer to keep the trains running on time.

The whole cycle of starting, innovating and managing takes leadership that is willing to see a vision through.

I see the successes and failure in this area continually across businesses. The missing ingredient may be as simple as missed expectations and underestimation. The leadership part is not something to babysit the process. It is the core part of success.

Is there an area you have to get more engaged with? 

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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