I recently had an opportunity to visit the library of a major university and must admit I was a bit overwhelmed by the resources available to our students today. This library was so large they had to paint lines of various colors on the floor to guide you to your destination.
Upon arrival, I immediately beelined to the leadership/management stacks to see what they had to offer. This particular librarian must find it difficult to part with older titles because I discovered hundreds, yes hundreds, of titles in this particular category.
What I found amusing, as well as intriguing, was the fact that so many authors utilized a “hook” in form of celebrity names to get the attention of potential buyers. Be it a business leader, politician, military leader, TV program, religious leader, or cartoon character, they’ve all been associated with leadership or management in hopes of increasing sales. For instance, within a few shelves I found the following titles:
- Churchill on Leadership
- Leadership Lessons from Star Trek
- Moses on Management
- Shakespeare on Management
- Leadership Lessons of Robert E. Lee
- Patton on Leadership
- The Leadership Genius of Sitting Bull
- Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way
- Bart Starr: When Leadership Mattered
- Vince Lombardi on Leadership
- Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun
- The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan
- Toy Box Leadership
- Leading People the Black Belt Way
- Swordless Samurai Leadership
- Lee Iacocca’s Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
- And there were many, many more … especially in the Presidential arena.
These titles don’t even begin to include the hundreds of standard leadership and management books which constantly line the shelves.
However, returning to the above list … do you really think each of those so-called “celebrity experts” are offering something new and unusual in this crucial area? If you had the time to sit down and actually compare content, you might be surprised at the amount of repetition you’d discover. There are, of course, many different approaches to leadership. However, there aren’t so many that hundreds of books are required to describe them all. There is a great deal of duplication in theory.
Even though theories may differ, the majority of what’s offered today has been proven to be successful to various degrees. Why then do we see so many businesses fall by the wayside every year? In fact, while there were more than 671,000 new businesses opened last year, 544,800 closed down!
The problem does NOT lie in a lack of theories, strategies, tips, tools, or programs. Most all business leaders are well aware of what it takes to flourish in today’s chaotic business environment. They also know how other organizations have reached a level of achievement in the past. The problem lies in a lack of execution.
We address this issue in many of our seminars, keynotes and leadership boot camps. We’ve discussed it at great length on our website and blog. We call it the “knowing-doing gap.” While the closure of this gap is crucial to your future success, few organizations seem to address it.
In research for his recent book, Execution Revolution, author Gary Harpst discovered:
- An astounding 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution!
- Only 5% of employees understand their corporate strategy! Unbelievable!
- Only 3% of executives think their company is very successful at executing strategies, while 62% think they’re only moderately successful, or worse.
In short, read all you want on the subject of programs such as Baldrige, Lean and TQM. You’ll find the subject matter interesting, and you’ll enjoy learning about the many successes of those who have successfully executed such programs.
Read about knowledge management, data mining tools and scorecards for performance measurement and management. You’ll learn a great deal.
Investigate new models of training and employee development as well as personal and executive coaching. In the end, you will have read, researched, investigated and probably learned much. Now you KNOW what to do. However, you have invested a great deal of time, energy and effort to no avail at this point. True success and ROI emerges only when you successfully execute what you’ve learned. The “knowing-doing gap” must be closed at every level of the organization in order to enjoy true success.