It’s All About People

December 3, 2009 06:00 PM

To stay ahead in this rapidly changing world, the internal rate of change in a company has to exceed the rate of change in the external environment. If it doesn't, the organization will fall behind even though it may be
moving ahead.

Ultimately, it is people rather than things that take an organization from good to great. Organizations become great by getting the right people in the right places, doing the right things and then managing them in a way that allows them to perform their best.

The road to the winner's circle is driven by a team that questions the way things are done, proposes new initiatives and helps the leader make wise decisions. Companies that rely on the old command-and-control management model, in which the "big” ideas have to originate at the top, are likely to stagnate and lose their competitive advantage. Indeed, dictatorship can lead to significant losses.

Under dictators, thought leaders leave, and those who remain are technical staff or loyal soldiers who require constant direction. They are not capable of taking the reins if needed, and the rate of change in the company tends to slow.

Talent Set. There is no formula for leadership. There are best attributes, but there isn't one best practice. That's why great technicians, theorists, politicians and hard-asset managers are seldom great leaders—the talent set is different.

Great leaders focus on personnel asset development, not personnel management. They cultivate "thought leaders”—people who hunger to learn, who have a self-starter attitude and who fulfill expectations and accept accountability.

Management theory continues to evolve, but a leadership model that embraces continuous change and constructive expression of employees' ideas and initiatives will be more competitive than one that relies on the executive suite. Instead, that's where cultivation of thought leaders should start.

Focus on Personnel Asset Development

> Make sure every employee understands the objectives for the business.

> Invite participation.

> Build the confidence level; foster courage and self-motivated initiative. 

> Be careful how you react to mistakes; treat them as learning experiences.

> Encourage and reward alternative approaches and new ideas that improve performance and efficiency.

Danny Klinefelter is an ag economist with Texas AgriLife Extension.

Top Producer, December 2009

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