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Hearts, Minds & Measures

Creating action requires more than Management

Leaders create action. More accurately, leaders strive to create coordinated action intended to produce some specific desired outcome. That action is carried out by people, and they've got to want to do it. So how do we get them to want to do it, and why does that seem so difficult for so many people?

A client recently told me, "We've harped for years on metrics and beaten our people over the head with it." Well metrics are important...if we're using ones that actually help get right job done. Without them, coordination is not possible and no group of people can operate as a team. But a common problem is that many of us harp on metrics only and start wielding them like a weapon. And that's what happens in absence of leadership...we just manage the crap out of everything until we suck the life and value out of it...and out of our people. You can watch it happen all the time in restaurants that are in a nose-dive and don't know it.

Performance requires more than just metrics or measures. They represent only part of the recipe. The condition of Team requires leadership to focus on the full recipe of Hearts, Minds & Measures. So let's take a quick look at why.

As my friends from the high-performance team at Continental Airlines tell me, "What gets measured gets done." The least we could do is tell people what we're going to measure. It's the circled point on the big map that everyone can see. Without it, there is no way for them to coordinate. Well, okay, now that it's on the board, we all know what the target is, and what we'll count as progress.


That's only the beginning. Why are we measuring those things? Where will they get us? How are they going to help us maintain coordination? What is the intent behind them? We had better know what we're supposed to achieve so that we can make sure we're measuring the right things the right way. What are our teammates going to be doing while we do our part? Once we know these things, we can now say that we have a shared vision, right? It's the "why" that determines the value of the "what." Not only do we know it, now we actually get it.

Minds and Measures.

Now we have a plan and everybody understands it. That's rare enough these days. But what's in it for us to work together to make your plan work? Don't make the mistake of wimping out here. This is where the true leaders have the courage to show up and deliver, while the pretenders and big-talkers are revealed like roaches in the bright lights and start scurrying for cover. They flake out and fall back on position authority. Here's when we have to get tough. What's the engine that's going to bring the plan from paper to life? What's going to take it "from talk to action" -- and not merely make it move, but make it work when Chaos joins the party? Where is it that we will find the Resolve that's going to press the attack against all odds and to put the team and mission above self? Now we're asking the questions of Personal Leadership. And now we're talking about inspiration, not coercion.

Hearts, Minds & Measures.

Now you've got Leadership: the functional, intellectual, and emotional elements (in reverse order), all working as one. The what, the why, and the what's in it for us. We could also view it as Management, Strategic Leadership, and the Personal Leadership, working as one to get the job done. Teams require them all.

It's good to know the plan, even better when everyone understands it. But as humans, we've got to feel it in order to really want it. That's where inspiration comes in. And then, just maybe we can find that unicorn known as Resolve.

There just aren't any shortcuts. We can leverage people into moving a step forward. But Leadership seeks a condition where the right thing happens the right way, at the right time, regardless whose responsibility it is. And leveraging will never get that done. It's inspiration that leadership seeks.

So, when someone tells me that their team needs to work on teamwork or communication or accountability, my response is that they are all simply reflections of the condition of the team. If you want teamwork, then work on Team. And it requires leadership, focusing on Hearts, Minds & Measures; it's the decisive approach. It's leadership.


Work as One. Win as One.

The battle for coordination is joined.