Great Managers Are Great Pioneers by Marcia Zidle

Great leaders and entrepreneurs are not content merely to maintain the status quo. They are driven to see and seek out opportunities to make a big impact.

Peter Drucker said, “Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. All one can hope to get by solving problems is to restore normalcy.”

This is one of the primary differences between leaders and managers. Leaders lead. They go first. They begin the quest for a new order. They plunge into new, sometimes dangerous, and at times unpredictable territory .Managers, on the other hand, maintain the existing order. They organize, and establish necessary processes and controls.

Leaders as pioneers want to turn around a failing business or non-profit, or start up some new radical venture, or develop an original product line or service, or revolutionize an existing process. They want to mobilize others in the face of strong inertia or resistance. They may not change the world, but they passionately pursue making a significant difference

Here Are Ways to Start!

1. Treat every project, however big or small, as an adventure in an unexplored wilderness.
If leaders want to inspire the best in others, they must find or create opportunities for people to get fired up, tap into their great potential and not be fearful of difficult goals.

2. Question the status quo and confront ineffective sacred cows.
Obviously, some standard practices and policies are critical to the organization’s success. But many are simply “The way we’ve always done it”. Leaders, as pioneers, examine how work gets done and asks: “Is there a better way to do it?

3. Tap into the wisdom of your people and harvest new ideas.
Many times the people who have been doing something for years have conceived of new and better processes. But no one has ever asked them for their opinion!

4. Forget, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It may work well, but can it work better? Especially in a new assignment, dumb questions are tolerated. This can lead to uncovering needed improvements and a fresh approach which can result in quantum leaps in organizational effectiveness.

5. Assign your best people to opportunities not to problems.
Naturally, problems must be dealt with, but opportunities are the life-blood of our organizations. Solving a problem contains and prevents damage, but seizing an opportunity produces growth and new life.

Management Success Tip:
So are you a pioneer? Here are some questions to help you find out.

  • What makes something, for you, new, innovative and worthwhile doing?
  • Think of a time that you or a leader you know challenged the status quo or sacred cows. What happened?
  • When have you pushed your own limits to get extraordinary things done? What did you risk? What did you gain?
  • In terms of leading others, what are some of the actions you’ve taken to create a climate for change and encourage risk-taking?

Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?

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