Friday, September 13, 2013

Pragmatic Leadership

by: Chris Truitt

It is safe to say that there is a good chance you’ll find unanimous agreement in the business community that leadership is a key component of a thriving organization. Peter Northouse defines leadership as ‘a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal’ (2007 p3). Such an essential business component as leadership requires cooperation from subordinates. It is vital to an organization’s success that subordinate teams understand the company’s vision and objectives. Good managers understand and respect the co-depended relationship between management and subordinates. A staff that buys into the corporate vision, works diligently and is committed to the team is a prerequisite of achieving organizational objectives.

Never Underestimate Your Staff

The knowledge and skill set of employees may vary, but the information that employees have regarding the day to day functions of an organization should not be underestimated. Employee responsibilities can be abundant in number, but generally they are called to follow through on the mandate set by leadership. Your staff knows what ideas work and which are ineffective, and they probably have very strong opinions about the things that don’t work. They usually know how your customers feel about various processes and changes. A staff can be the best source of information that a leader has. This is the reason that bottom up change is so practical and effective. A wise leader accepts that their knowledge is limited and can humble themselves to truly accept and consider feedback from subordinates.

Know your Team. Reward Good Performance

While we all can hope and wish that everyone will find it in them to show initiative, in reality, some people are more inclined to skate by and will only do enough work to stay on your payroll.  It’s easy to weed these people out. You must first identify your all-stars, the employees that gladly take on more responsibilities and tasks without question and truly care about the quality of their work. Once you’ve identified the crème de la crème of your group, reward them. We all have budget limitations, but a $25 dollar gift card to your local steakhouse shouldn’t be a great financial burden. This is also a core group from which you can promote.
Lastly, raise the bar. You can weed out under-performers by raising the support line of productivity above the performance parameters of your statistically (consistently) lowest performer. In other words, increase the lowest threshold for acceptable performance to make your weak links work harder. This may seem harsh, but it will motivate the staff one way or the other. This action will motivate them to improve or motivate them to find new job. Before you shake things up, remember that a good leader must first coach their staff and make a few attempts to help them improve. If this doesn’t work, alter trajectory. If properly implemented, a slight bump in statistical requirements should not affect the rest of your team (your all-stars). They never even think about the bottom because they are usually leading the pack.

Chris Truitt is a seasoned Email Deliverability Manager. He has spent the last six and one half years honing his craft with iContact and stepped into a leadership role shortly after iContact’s acquisition by Vocus. As Manager of Deliverability, Chris has tripled the size of his team, written policies and processes to improve inbox delivery to enhance the customer experience.

As a pragmatist, Chris has a result oriented approach to business. If a process does not render desired results, he will not hesitate to alter course or tweak his procedure. He is a proponent of interdepartmental cooperation and sharing resources. His community philosophy is appreciated by his colleagues, as he looks to assess how the change he implements affects others. In cooperation with several department leaders, Chris helped increase inbox delivery for iContact and Vocus senders. Chris knows that strong decisive leadership is the cornerstone of a thriving organization.

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