Successful Businesses Are Led More Than They Are Managed

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Wise Words: Successful Businesses Are Led More Than They Are Managed
by Tom Welch
Treasure Coast Business Journal (Vero Beach, FL)

If you’re ever in the mood for a relaxing adventure, here’s an idea for you. Rent a canoe in Jupiter and ride the current of the lazy Loxahatchee River north to Hobe Sound. You’ll paddle through narrow twists and turns and glide along some wide straight-aways.

Not much thinking involved. Mostly quiet time to enjoy the rustic beauty of a natural gem. This is still life, however, so you will have to make a few decisions.

Like when you creep up on a partially submerged log or low hanging tree branches, you’ll have to decide whether you pick up and carry the canoe or decide if it’s possible to just keep on floating.

It reminds me of a pretty typical day:  twists and turns and a few straight-aways thrown in for good measure. And decisions on which way to head next.

In fact, people and organizations seem to follow a similar path as they move through time.

Companies are continuously working on vision and mission statements to guide their direction and growth. Likewise, individuals are continuously evaluating their jobs and careers, seeking personal growth and fulfillment.

While contemplating common success themes that might better guide both individuals and organizations, I recalled some recent advice from Bob Danzig.

Now, before you ever contemplate following someone’s advice, you really ought to know if that person has ever walked in anything similar to your loafers. If he hasn’t, how valuable is his opinion?

In Bob’s case, when it comes to both personal growth and organizational success, he passes the shoe test.

His first job was office boy for the Albany New York Times Union newspaper, a Hearst publication. Nineteen years later, he became publisher for all Hearst operations.

For 20 years, he held the top job at Hearst, improving technology, talent and profits. During his tenure, he doubled cash flow at the multi-billion-dollar company. Not a bad feat for a one-time office boy.

How did Bob manage his incredible personal growth? How did he lead that organizational success? Were his strategies different for himself than for the organization?

“No. The strategies were the same,” he said.

It turns out that those strategies were not complicated, yet they were the keys to his personal success and his well-respected business expertise.

Bob was emphatic when he said, “Of all the lessons I’ve learned, these three stand out.”

Seek out and nurture the best talent.

Danzig takes little credit for the accomplishments during his watch. He heaps the praise on the talent of the Hearst people.

“I was simply the guy presented with the opportunity to put my hand on the helm,” he said.

His advice for individual growth? “Nurture your own talents,” he said.

In other words, to discover success and fulfillment, do what you do best and just keep getting better and better.

Consistently celebrate achievements.

When you nurture your talents and work at something you enjoy, accomplishments are all but guaranteed. Personal growth and job satisfaction are byproducts.

Take the time to appreciate what you have achieved. Life is full of striving but it’s also filled with results. Enjoy the results of who you are and what you are getting done.

If you are in a leadership role, Bob said, “Celebrate the achievements of your folks. Don’t wait for the spectacular. Get in the habit of celebrating achievements regularly. Once someone who has their hand on the helm begins to create an attitude of celebrating talents and achievements, it permeates the organization. It becomes part of your culture.”

If you want your team or organization to succeed, help every individual succeed. The best way to accomplish that is with R&R. No, not rest and relaxation but reward and recognition. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Be strategic rather than operational.

What does Bob mean by strategic?

In his words, “Successful businesses are places that are led more than managed. Management is a process about today. Leadership is about tomorrow.”

Management is indeed a process. Leadership is a skill. Management without true leadership is like a canoe ride without a paddle. You just won’t get very far.

Remember also to lead yourself. Know where you want to go, what you want to do and what it will take to get there. Then go make it happen.

Bob Danzig did. Why not you?