Strategies for Individuals
by Christy Miller
New strategies are necessary for leaders to be successful in the Connective Era where connections among people, products, and places render the old ways of doing things ineffective. The world has changed; we as leaders need to change.
This past summer I (third from left), along with several hundred relatives, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Miller family homestead in northwestern North Dakota. The festivities included recognition of 100 years of family farming as 4th and 5th generation pioneers still derive their livelihoods from reaping harvests of amber waves of grain. Nevertheless, time has not stood still. Fewer family members than ever can make a decent living at this vocation—not many have survived. Well-run corporate farms added competitive pressures, and although science and technology have increased long-term productivity, these advances required significant capital investment thereby shrinking short-term profitability. I see in my farmer relatives the attributes that keep this legacy going: a readiness to embrace new technology, a willingness to save today to invest in tomorrow’s successes or prepare for future failures, a deep pride and joy in the work itself, and a love for the family for whom the fruits of their labor provide.
I turned to "The Essential Drucker" to glean some advice from the management guru himself before embarking on this “change the game of leadership” adventure. Sure enough, Peter Drucker provides a laser-sharp response to the question of “how can I make a difference” in chapter 15 entitled, “Focus on Contribution”.
One of my lesser-used achieving styles is competitiveness. While I doubt that the spirit of competition will lead us to the next level of effective leadership in the world, there are lessons that someone like me needs to learn from this approach.
This Yogi Berra witticism points out the fact that using effective strategies requires practice. Practice is what enables us to take the right action at the appointed time. In this posting, I suggest that individuals can influence the advancement of Connective Era leadership by practicing the new more effective leadership behaviors in all domains of life. Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco S.A. reminds us that “Outside the factory, workers are men and women who elect governments, serve in the army, lead community projects, raise and educate families, and make decisions every day about the future. Friends solicit their advice. Salespeople court them. Children and grandchildren look up to them for their wisdom and experience. (5)” Certainly we have opportunities within our families and communities to practice effective leadership.
Inspired again by the cleverness of Yogi Berra, I recognize that there is not a magic formulary of answers that will quickly transform the leaders of the world. However, I trust that these musings have encouraged you and provided you with some practical advice on how you can improve leadership effectiveness in the 21st century even if you are not at the top of your organization. I conclude then with this baseball-season, dinner-table conversation and leave you with a question.