I carried my first mobile phone on a business trip in about 1990. “Mobile” was a generous way to describe it. Heavy and large with a charging stand. I had a firm conviction no reasonable business person would ever carry a phone with him on a trip. Too much trouble.
I read in an article about leadership we like to follow “leaders who have conviction.” The article talked about clarity, purpose, focus, and similar reasons to like conviction. What is not to like about clarity, purpose, and focus? But “conviction,” that needs some thought.Firmly holding a belief or opinion, another way of saying “conviction,” can greatly increase organizational risk. If a firmly held belief or opinion is about a specific product or service, if it is about the future of technological change in your industry, then you are exposed to great risk from the “unknown unknowns” that may disrupt your belief or opinion.
On the other hand, a leader with a conviction that growth comes from discipline, system reliability. documentation, experimentation, problem solving and making decisions based upon factual data is committed to a system for making smart decisions.
What are some characteristics of a leader with a firm belief in systems driven growth?
Alignment. Systems driven leadership seeks alignment. Vertical alignment up and down an organization combined with horizontal alignment across all organizational functions and external alignment with customers and suppliers. With alignment, leaders answer the fundamental question, “What do you want and why is it important?” What constraints and restrictions do we face? Where might we start looking? Don’t give us the answer, give us the right questions. A firm conviction we should work on the very important problems.
Education. What do we need to know? Yesterday’s knowledge will not exploit tomorrow’s opportunities. Systems driven leaders understand education provides the stimulus that is the raw material of innovation. A firm conviction that learning drives growth.
Rapid Testing. Let’s try it, today. How can we do a quick test? Let’s go ask some people what they think. A systems driven leader does not need to know because she would rather test. A firm conviction that test results are better than an assumption.
Is it your conviction that you know the answer? Or are you convinced that together, we can be better?
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