ACT, or be ACTED UPON

Our basic nature is to act, and not be acted upon. Action enables us to choose our response to particular circumstances. Action, and the choice of our response, allows us to create circumstances of our choice.

Leadership is both tactical and strategic. Strategic leaders are the ones who climb the tallest tree, survey the entire situation, and yell down to the troops "Wrong forest!" Solid tactical leaders look at the trees and the lay of the land and tell the troops "This way!" The sad fact is that busy, efficient producers and managers often respond, "Shut up! We're making progress!" They may be efficient, but they aren't effective.

Effectiveness and survival do not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not the effort we expend is in the right forest, moving in the right direction, and actually accomplishing the desired outcome.

Leadership is a dance—sometimes with just one other follower, and sometimes with a whole troop. Either way, the leadership dance does not work if the leader does not act, if the leader does not lead.

Some leaders are leaders in title only; they let others take the lead. And that can work for a while, as long as the titled leader is comfortable following the actual acting leader. But as soon as the titled leader lets his need for significance get in the way, the wheels begin to wobble. As soon as the titled leader starts to take credit (they seldom ask), the confidence of the acting leader can be shaken. The need for unearned eminence is a real problem.

“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit.” Harry Truman is usually credited with that quotation, although Ronald Reagan made sure a copy of it got posted on the White House wall. I don't agree with Truman's quotation in total, because in the sense of the sovereign man, credit does matter. Jack Welch calls this ‘differentiation.’ Welch puts it this way: “Companies win when their managers make a clear and meaningful distinction between top and bottom performing businesses and people.” Leaders are different from followers, and one of the perks given to leaders is that they get credit for taking action.

When credit for the work of a sovereign man is taken by those who deserve no credit, a crime is committed. It is one thing to say that we should recognize team efforts and collaboration, but he who leads the team must also be recognized. Not the leader of title, but the leader of action. The sovereign man who takes the mantle of action and leads a team has every right to reserve a kick for the feeble windbags who take the credit due him. Still, the sovereign man knows that as much as he would like to kick that windbag, the rest of the team—the team members of courage and conscience—know who they really followed.

Leaders take action, and followers choose to follow leaders who take action. Truman is also credited with saying, "A great leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do and like it.” Now this is a true statement.

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Lessons & Stories

How do you create knowledge?

We think the best lessons come from experience.  You can take what you know and apply it to the problem to see if your solution works.  Your solution may work or it may not work. If it works the first time you really don't have a chance to learn anything because you don't know what was critical to the success.  But if the solution fails you have something to work with, something that gives you a clue what needs improvement. 

You can gain knowledge on your own making mistakes.  You can learn for observing others as they make mistakes.  You can learn from the stories that other tell about their successes and failures.  Building knowledge requires all three.  So we present Both Lessons and Stories.  

The lessons let you gather information about the subject, lessons that you can put to use and see how they work in your environment, to fail and learn with.  

The stories build in the mistakes and discoveries of other practitioners.  The stories, telling memorable tails, allow you to better understand the thinking process of the story teller, the fears, concerns, joys they encountered in their work. 

There is a remarkable and brilliant line of difference between management and leadership.

Leaders lead based on a vision.  The leader looks not at the trees... Read More...

What do Churchill's leadership skills have to do with our modern supply chain today?  The key principles of his leadership are scalable and flexible ...

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How do you create knowledge?  I’m not talking about learning.  Knowledge is more than just learning.  Only through practice does what you learn become ...

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Your actual conduct, the example you set, is the real key to your influence with me. Your actual conduct as it flows naturally from your character ...

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The word No is a definitive statement, where Yes is a statement of possibility.

When you say No to an option, you eliminate it from the selection process,

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As the story goes, a consultant coined the term Supply Chain.  Whether you believe that story in unimportant.  However coined, Supply Chain grew into ...

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It was a heady time.  Corporate logistics.  We had 600+ stores, 600+ vendors, 5 DCs and hundreds of internal people making inventory flow from over 600 points on the map...

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There is such a person as a Natural Born Leader.  This is somebody that figured out how to get people to follow them, with little instruction.  They say just just the right thing to get throngs of people ...

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Without People, Business does not exist.

I look at all of the people involved in an enterprise as labor.  I don’t look at it as a division of ...

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In 2012 I got involved in an ongoing discussion / argument / thread about the difference between strategy and tactics.  I followed the discussion for about four weeks before ...

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