Supervisory Leadership

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Wally Bock on Leadership and Strategy

Wally Bock thinks that leadership and strategy are best done as human-scaled processes. Here are some of his thoughts.

You don't get any choice about being a leader. If you're responsible for a group, you have a leadership role and you will be treated as such. Your only choice is whether to do the things that effective leaders do, or not.

Everyone responsible for a group does Leadership work, Management work and Supervision work.

Leadership is the part of your job that involves purpose and change. Management involves priorities and groups. Supervision involves tasks and individuals.

Leadership principles have not changed much since Caesar was writing about his Gallic Campaigns.

The leader's most potent tools are example and influence.

Strategy deals with decisions and planning that affect the entire organization. Tactics deals with decisions and planning that affect areas limited by function, geography and time. Operational planning deals with the day to day work of achieving strategic and tactical goals.

Strategy should be a process of setting a general direction while remaining flexible.

Leaders need a vision of where their organization should be going. You don't develop that in groups. It's work you do alone, supported by good information gathering habits.

Most long range plans make better doorstops than guides to effective action.

Scenarios are a great aid to thinking, but don't mistake them for strategic plans.

Even though there are lots of leadership and strategy lessons to be learned from the military, don't think for a minute that business is like war. It isn't. Your friends don't die in your arms in business.

One big thing you can take from the military is the importance of doctrine as a guide to strategy development and action.

If you must be a coach, decide what kind of coach you'll be. I think basketball, hockey and soccer coaches are a good model. They do individual skills work, and develop game plans but mostly yell encouragement from the bench when the game is on.

I don't much like the use of sports coaches as models of business leadership. Sports coaches get to practice way more than they play. In business, every day is game day.

Created/Revised/Reviewed: 12/31/00

Reviewed: 2/15/03


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