Excerpted from Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers by Stan Slap by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) Stan Slap, 2010.
By Stan Slap
Do companies feel the pain of not having emotional commitment from their managers? They feel the pain. Ask any company at any time about their top ten chronic challenges. Manager performance will always appear on the list--finding them, keeping them, paying them, training them and motivating them.
Missed deadlines, lack of innovation, fluctuating product quality and legal liability are all part of the high cost of low management commitment. That's when they stay. When sales managers leave, they take great customers with them; when engineering managers leave, they take great ideas with them; when charismatic managers leave, they take great people with them. How many companies can say this problem doesn't matter? How many companies can say they've put this chronic challenge behind them?
Why then has such an obvious problem not been mated with the resources and resolve to fix it? After all, the best companies are used to facing complex problems with no apparent solution in sight.
When beset with a crisis, they marshal every resource, review every methodology, import and apply the best advice, focus obsessively on innovative solutions -- and solve the problem.
From Skunk Works to Saturn to Six Sigma to one 60 Minutes segment after another, there have always been examples of companies that have charted unusual success and lip-smackingly enjoyed the results. Everybody else in the business world knows about these examples, talks about them, covets them -- and generally avoids implementing them.
Companies are driven by executive teams, most often a group of highly intelligent, highly skilled and highly compensated people, all focused on the goal of keeping the enterprise growing and profitable.
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They're hardly asleep at the wheel; these are people who are sometimes awake twenty-four hours a day, agonizing about whether their picture will ultimately grace the cover of Business Week or Mortuary Management.
Their companies solve problems and survive or they don't solve problems and fail, and either way the people running them become smarter and better able to anticipate and resolve challenges they've faced before. This is the evolving history of business.
So where is the evolved methodology for creating the highest level of self-sustaining motivation from their manager culture? Where is the genetic corporate memory for solving this problem, subscribed to by any company without conscious thought? Why hasn't a pro forma method -- the classic corporate manual -- been developed for how to get the most out of managers by gaining their emotional commitment? If companies applied the same clear and courageous thinking to other critical moments in corporate evolution, we'd still be grunting in the dirt, puzzling over applications for a square wheel.
Without emotional commitment from managers a company can't ever realize the dream of being a self-structuring, self-protective system. Problems never fully stop, opportunities are never fully leveraged and, even on the best days with the biggest wins, the executive team is a little on edge amongst itself about confidently predicting the future. The company remains constantly vulnerable and expends tremendous resources, even in a mature state, focused on survival.
And yet, companies have seemingly missed fixing the one thing that threatens all other things. It just doesn't make sense.
Or does it?
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