Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Know what it is that you do.

What follows is an extract from my latest book 'I Wanna Tell You a Story' click here to order the book.

“Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” - Ann Landers

In a previous place I had a friend and neighbour who is a builder. We often had interesting discussions about our respective jobs. This is the sort of dialogue of one of our typical discussions;

Maurice: What is it that you do as a manager in the health service?

Me: I help doctors and nurses do their job easier by doing the complicated management stuff.

Maurice: Mmmmm …but what do you do?

Me: I attend lots of meetings to hear what needs to be done and then I try and make changes to achieve those things.

Maurice: Mmmmm ..Ok …but what to do you actually do?

Me: (becoming more uncomfortable) … Well I manage budgets and write reports and do lots of presentations. I also manage lots of staff.

Maurice: You still haven’t told me what you actually do

Me: (now distinctly uncomfortable and seeking divine intervention) … Well I am responsible for the management of my entire department and for the smooth running of my part of the healthcare system … (Thinking rather smugly – that should finally satisfy him)

Maurice: Look Trevor when I go to work I can show you what I have done. I might have built a wall. I might have repaired a roof. I can give you the evidence – I can show you. You just talk in ‘woolly’ words that mean nothing to the everyday person. Try in future to tell me what you do.

This little exchange illustrates that we managers and leaders need to be able to illustrate what it is that we actually do. It simply is not good enough use woolly expressions that do not tell anyone anything.

Leadership Lesson

Don’t rely on the dog - Know what it is that you do and more importantly, know how you can prove it.

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