Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Successful company leaders empower their people to execute their company’s mission and then hold them accountable to do so

That’s the essence of a new book titled, “Vital Factors: The Secret to Transforming Your Business - And Your Life.” The book’s co-author Lee Froschheiser is the chief executive officer and president of Management Action Programs (MAP) Inc. in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Froschheiser was recently interviewed over the phone by SBT executive editor Steve Jagler.

SBT: One of the lines in your book is a reference about how effective leaders don’t spend most of their time telling people what to do. Instead, they create a system that empowers people to understand and execute the company’s mission statement. Is that a core principle of your book – empowering people and then holding them accountable?
Froschheiser: “The essence is to get people to understand what the right things to work on are, and empower them and train them and coach them. And when I give my speech in Milwaukee, I’m going to talk about empowerment, and what goes into empowerment. And then, you’re right. You’ve got to hold people accountable.

“I can go into companies and ask employees, ‘Do you feel empowered?’ And a lot of times, they’ll say, ‘No, I don’t feel empowered.’ As a leader, empowerment doesn’t mean they (employees) get to run amuck. As a leader, empowerment is that you train and develop and they understand that this is what I need to work on, and I’m going to be held accountable on this. It takes a lot of energy to tell people what to be doing all the time.

“I like to use the analogy of a buffalo herd and a gaggle of geese. I go fly-fishing up in Montana all the time, right in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, and there’s always buffalo herds there. If you ever watch a buffalo herd, a buffalo herd truly does have one lead buffalo. Where the lead buffalo goes, that’s where the herd goes. That’s why the buffalo hunters could wipe out so many buffaloes. They’d find the lead buffalo, they’d shoot it, and the rest of them would all stand around, waiting for the lead buffalo to move. And what happens in companies when the leader is always telling people what to do, is you become a buffalo herd. When the leader’s not there, guess what? Nothing happens. What you really want is an organization where there’s empowerment, and you become that gaggle of geese, where, when the lead goose gets tired and falls back, the next one takes the lead. And you don’t have that in an organization if you don’t have empowerment. So, you’re right on.”