Archive for May, 2014

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Results through Implementation

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


Results through Implementation

Alignment solution: The best-laid plans are doomed to failure if they are not implemented.

What is your track record for implementing your organization’s policies, procedures, programs, and initiatives? If you wrote down a list right now of all the plans developed on your watch, what percent of them could you honestly say have been transformed into actions that resulted in sustainable, meaningful results? For example, is your strategic plan driving your organization toward its goals, or is it gathering dust on a shelf? How about your succession plan? Do you have a pool of qualified candidates ready to step into key positions when vacancies arise, or do you promote the nearest warm body and hope for the best?

A critical success factor for leaders is the management of plan implementation – i.e., turning words into actions to achieve desired outcomes. The best-laid plans are worthless if they are not executed. This seems like an obvious point. Yet too often leaders fail to ensure that things get done. Last week, for example, articles in a number of media outlets took President Obama to task for his inability to move from campaign rhetoric to action to results on initiatives that he identified as high priorities for his administration. Politics aside, the facts to date indicate a dearth of follow-through on promises like providing timely care for U.S. veterans.

How can you avoid such a failure of leadership? Start with these three steps:

  1. Realize that plans have two essential parts: development and implementation. It is unlikely that a poorly developed plan can be effective in achieving its desired outcome. It is impossible for even a great plan to succeed if no action is taken to achieve it.
  2. Insist that an implementation plan accompany every plan, policy, procedure, program, and initiative. Such a plan is much more detailed than an action plan, which typically is a simple to-do list. The difference between the two can be compared to getting a request to bake a cake without any further information (the action plan), and being handed a recipe for the cake you’re asked to bake (the implementation plan).
  3. Become a master of delegation by accurately identifying the most productive ways for you to spend your time. Here’s an effective tool that can help you achieve such mastery. Ask yourself, “Am I the only person in the world who can do [X]?” If the truthful answer is “Yes,” then do it. More often than not, however, the answer is “No.” In that case, delegate the task. Everyone will be better off: you spend time addressing the things only you can do, and others handle what they do best. Morale is enhanced, productivity increases, and the organization maximizes its performance.

By paying attention to both the development and the implementation of plans, ensuring that their words are translated into actions that result in sustainable outcomes, and delegating necessary tasks effectively, you are highly likely to achieve the desired end.

To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.


Alignment Solutions Newsletter: The #1 Job of a Leader

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The #1 job of a leader

Alignment solution: The number one job of a leader is taking care of his/her people.

Retired General Rick Hillier, former Chief of the Defence Staff for Canadian Forces, is a distinguished leader. So on May 5th when he declared, “The number one job of a leader is people,” he had the attention of every one of the nearly 600 attendees of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs’ annual conference in Toronto. For 90 minutes he drove home the point that leadership is all about people by telling story after compelling story about the men and women who had served under his command. Specifically, he said, there are two steps to a leader’s number one job: inspiring others to join you in what you do, and drawing inspiration from your followers to keep you going.

When you inspire others, according to General Hillier, people want to work with you to change the world. They will fight to join your team. And not only will they bring their bodies to work, which they are paid to do, they also will bring their minds. Whatever you focus on, they focus on as well.

When you are down, he continued, you need only look around you to find inspiration in the people who follow you. When you are surrounded by those who share your vision and are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve it, you cannot help but be inspired by them.

Here are nine ways General Hillier said that leaders can inspire their followers. You inspire people by:

  1. Having a vision that they can get behind.
  2. Aligning your priorities, words, actions, and values with that vision – i.e., truly walking the talk.
  3. Thinking outside the box.
  4. Equipping them properly to do the job you’ve asked them to do.
  5. Being there with them and giving them credit, with compassion, in the presence of others, and in a personal way.
  6. Not blaming others when things go wrong, and taking responsibility for whatever happened.
  7. Standing up for them, even if it means putting your own job on the line by doing the right thing.
  8. Creating learning organizations, which make people more competitive and save lives when they get to learn and practice ahead of time.
  9. Being yourself, and letting others see you grow, learn, and mature.

General Hillier closed by saying that heroism comes from the leadership you provide and the inspiration you create.

How many of the nine actions above can you honestly say you practice regularly? Which one(s) will you commit to adopting today? Following these steps consistently will result in a significantly higher likelihood of achieving your vision through the efforts of inspired followers who, in turn, serve as a source of inspiration for you, their leader.

To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Effective Delegation Tool for Busy Leaders

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Early Saturday morning I went to the Long Beach Fire Department’s Training Center to attend a traffic control class for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members. The CERT program manager, Firefighter/Paramedic Jake Heflin, a highly respected and nationally recognized expert in emergency preparedness and response as well as a sought-after FEMA-certified trainer, came in a few minutes later. The look on his face suggested he hadn’t slept in days. Professional that he is, he rallied to get the class started by introducing our Long Beach Police Department trainer.

During the break, I asked Jake how things were going. He had just returned from a week-long trip to Phoenix, the White House had called him to request that he write a letter explaining how emergency preparedness would affect one of its initiatives, his work had piled up in his absence, and he was worried about the funding for his position, which ends in September. Plus he hadn’t seen his family in a week, and Sunday was Mother’s Day in the U.S. No pressure!

“Pat,” he said, “I need to be operating at the 50,000 foot level. Instead, I’m down here in the weeds. I need to learn now to delegate.”

“Jake,” I replied, “I have just the tool for you. It’s a very simple question that provides immediate clarity. Ask yourself, ‘Am I the only person who can do [the task at hand]?’ If the truthful answer is ‘Yes,’ then do it. Otherwise, delegate it.”

Though the question is a simple one that cuts to the chase, I find that leaders have a hard time actually releasing tasks they should be delegating. Sometimes there is no one to whom they can hand things off. However, even that “excuse” often can be overcome with a little creativity. Most of the time, there are beliefs that hold leaders back. See if either of these rationalizations resonates with you:

“No one else can do it as well as I can.”

“I can do it faster myself.”

Although these statements may be true, here’s why allowing such beliefs to prevent you from delegating tasks is problematic on three levels:

1. Organization: you are not serving your organization well because you are misallocating scarce resources, namely your time.

2. Employees: you are failing to develop your staff by withholding opportunities for them to learn and grow.

3. Self: you are hurting yourself because you unnecessarily are increasing the amount of stress you face, which has a negative effect on your health as well as on your performance.

So please – do yourself and everyone else a favor: stop making excuses and start delegating! By releasing those tasks that others can do and focusing on those that you are uniquely qualified to do (or that you love to do), you will experience a dramatic increase in well-being. As a bonus, those to whom you delegate the tasks will appreciate the trust you are showing in them.

© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.