Dubbed GoGo when released (see our original excited post about GoGo Wi-Fi published on January 12, 2009), it is rumored that Delta has decided to rename their in-flight wireless Internet service NoGo to signify that the service is still not available on all flights nearly nine months since its release. More importantly, GoGo is surprisingly absent from many cross-country flights (where travelers would most welcome it). “It has become clear to us that we should rename the service NoGo,” stated a fictitious Delta executive.
Okay, so this is a rumor that I’m starting, but for good reason. Today I sit on a four-hour, thirteen-minute flight from Atlanta to Orange County on a Delta 737. Once we reached 10,000 feet, I was excited to remove my laptop from its bag, power up and surf to my heart’s content.
Oops, someone forgot to install GoGo on this flight.
Makes perfect sense, right? Why would a planeload of businessmen want to check email during a cross-country flight in the middle of a weekday? My last three flights, all less than 40 minutes in total EDUT (Electronic Device Usage Time), came equipped with GoGo wireless. At just under $10 per flight, GoGo is often not worth purchasing on such short hops. On a flight like today’s, GoGo would be a welcomed bargain that would also help Delta squeeze some additional revenue from its customers.
Leaders Remember Important Lessons
I admit it: I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in college. Much of what I do remember, I have to say, I will never, ever use. I’m hopeful, of course, that I can recall the important lessons when required. The lack of GoGo Wi-Fi on today’s long flight reminds me of one of the first lessons I learned during a basic marketing course in my freshman year in college; perhaps you recall this lesson, as well: it was called The Four Ps of Marketing.
Price, Promotion, Product, Place
With regards to the GoGo rollout, Delta has done a done a decent job with three of the Ps, but they forgot all about one of them.
Price. At $9.95, the service is priced particularly well. A dollar more and they would likely lose 20-30% of their users, a dollar less and they gain nothing.
Promotion. Between the early 40% discounts and the constant bombardment of seat pocket flyers and preflight announcements I have become nearly addicted to the service.
Product. I can surf the web at 30,000 feet. ‘nuf said.
Place. Oops… it’s clear Delta didn’t think this one through. To provide the service during a quick jaunt between ATL and JAX is meaningless to consumers (and probably costly to Delta). However, to not provide the service between Atlanta and John Wayne International is downright criminal. What is Delta thinking? Obviously (as is becoming commonplace with Delta product/process rollouts) they were not.
Like the on-again/off-again Breezeway rules, Delta leadership doesn’t seem to grasp simple concepts. Is it because running an airline is so complicated? I have no doubt it’s damn tough to achieve much of what Delta has achieved, though I find it incredibly disappointing when they fail at the simplest of tasks. (As a frequent Delta flyer, I’m just hopeful they don’t screw up like this on the important stuff.)
Tonight kicks off another season of NFL Football. To many, this is the most anticipated day of the year – especially to the millions of fantasy football players.
The editors of AskTheManager are fantasy football fanatics and we spent most of our draft last week discussing how fantasy football intersects with management and leadership.
Not surprisingly, we found correlation between a top fantasy football manager and great leadership and management skills.
The Fantasy Football Draft
While there are plenty of fantasy football cheat sheets available to the fantasy player, those who do the best in their league’s draft conduct an inordinate amount of research to fill their team with the very best players using the lowest possible draft pick.
Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and others of their fantasy prowess are no-brainers and are gone in the first two rounds. Anyone can pick these guys. Only someone committed to total world domination is going to take the time to choose Justin Gage, Matt Forte or Steve Slaton in the later rounds.
While those who aren’t willing to commit to the research will choose players past their prime, like Edgerrin James, true leaders balance the right amount of investigation into each decision – and they smoke everyone else on draft day.
The First Game
The NFL is quirky in the first few weeks of the season. The problem, as it were, is that every team feels like they’re going to win the Super Bowl. This brings out some amazing performances from the most unexpected players.
To pick the right players for your first game in fantasy football requires more instinct and moxie than any other week. Often in the fantasy leagues, you see those who ultimately finish near the bottom winning in the first week.
Firm decision making – avoiding any second guesses – delivers victories in week one to the true leaders.
Week After Week
Fantasy football takes commitment. Commitment is something that separates the leaders from the laggards.
The week after week grind brings out the strong management skills and true leadership decision making in the best fantasy players. Setting your weekly lineup, reviewing the available free agents, using your waivers sparingly and understanding that the teams your players face in a given week have as much to do with their success as their own talent takes strategy and a certain acumen not found in the laggards.
Leaders really excel during the week after week grind, because they bring commitment and a desire to be the best.
Throughout the season, fantasy players are faced with the possibility of trading players to other fantasy players. Knowing when you can get the most for a superstar and when you can pay the least for an up-and-comer is key.
Leaders who understand negotiation always make great trades. They understand win-win. A negotiation that ends in win-lose or lose-lose is a failed negotiation. Leaders live this.
Making certain you get the best of a trade is not as important to true leaders as ensuring that they helped their chances to win by making the trade. True leaders will give up a great fantasy tight end in week two, for example – if they’re stacked with two tight ends – in order to fill a running back void in the twelfth week of the season. Their decisions are made with the goal in mind – and they always focus on the goal.
All good fantasy leagues have a playoff. Generally, these playoffs occur during the last few weeks of the regular NFL season. Great fantasy players manage their rosters for playoff success throughout the season.
Why can’t you just stick with the great players that got you to the playoffs? Sometimes, you can. More often than not, NFL teams will rest great players if they’ve locked up a playoff spot. Additionally, NFL coaches use late season games to test some of their bench players – hopeful that these players will be useful in the NFL playoffs. Fantasy football leaders might mix in some second-stringers to aid their march through the fantasy playoffs.
The strategic and tactical maneuvers employed by great leaders during the final few weeks of the fantasy season are sometimes beautiful. You can tell in the first week of fantasy playoffs who the strategic thinkers are and who will go home without a trophy. Leaders always cash in their fantasy leagues… and TheManager always cashes!
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty is highlighting one of the finest and funniest contests about leadership and management from the AFL-CIO…
FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:
15 million workers in this country say they have a bad boss. A new survey also shows that 36 percent say they feel pressure to stay with said bad boss because of the shaky economy.
So if you have a crummy boss, but the economy is in the toilet, what do you do? Nothing, because a job with a bad boss… is better than no job at all. That’s not to say having to deal with some jerk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is any fun, but unfortunately these days a lot of people are trapped.
In recognizing these workers’ plight, an outfit called “Working America,” which is part of the AFL-CIO, is running an annual contest to see who has the worst boss in America.
To read the entire post and to enter the contest, visit this link.
Included in the great debates of business today is the always interesting “Leadership v. Management” fight. Whenever I read an online business blog or leadership resource that tackles this seeming duality, I find it interesting that there seem to be only two ways this topic is presented…
Lists of overlapping similar and dissimilar characteristics and traits of managers and leaders. These debates often become semantically mind-numbing and too focused on job duties.
Textbook definitions of Leadership and Management.
The writers of both styles of these well-intentioned posts generally look at managers and leaders as mutually exclusive Or worse, they tend to ignore leadership that exists without a management job title.
What’s the difference between management and leadership? Let’s answer that question later.
The truth, as we all know it, is that not all managers are leaders. What we sometimes forget is that great managers can exist without being leaders, and great leaders can exist without official authority or responsibility over others.
I know some great managers who aren’t necessarily good leaders. These guys keep the trains running on time and make very few mistakes. They are not particularly innovative, motivational or even charming; but they are a vital part of the businesses or teams they manage. Whether the missing leadership quality is necessitated by job duty or personality, these managers can still help a company succeed without ever having to truly lead. Their world is fairly static and it operates via a strict schedule.
Of course, the argument against these managers who seem to tread water is that we should just replace them with true leaders. I disagree. Managers who manage, rather than manage and lead, can hold a large amount of company history in their heads, are generally satisfied with their current role (equaling less turnover), and they are usually paid much less than an up-and-coming leader. Virtually every business needs a few managers mixed in with their manager-leaders. The key is to keep the numbers small and to recognize those parts of your business where a manager is enough.
Management is a Function
Management is, of course, a function in the organization. By it’s very nature, it speaks to the “doing” required to keep a company running. Managers derive their responsibilities and power from their title. Management is black and white – duties are either accomplished or they are not. Management relies heavily on reports as a scorecard, and as a tool to reward or punish teams or individuals.
The definition of leadership, it seems, is more fluid. True leaders do not need a title to provide them the authority necessary to enact change. Leaders tackle issues with abandon and question “why not?” Reports are considered “business intelligence” and are tools that help leaders see the future and make appropriate course corrections.
Management and leadership are not dichotomous terms. They are not mutually-exclusive. It is not an either/or. In fact, the words shouldn’t even be compared to each other. We all know great managers who aren’t leaders and great leaders who really can’t manage. Comparing management to leadership seems as silly to me as comparing an orange to an orangutan. Some similarities (they are both the same color), but they don’t belong in the same discussion.
Your organization needs managers and it needs leaders. Sometimes both qualities exist in a single person, and sometimes only one quality is present. Often, neither quality exists. In the famous words the late great Ted Knight uttered in Caddyshack, “The world needs ditch diggers too.”
Leaders versus Non-Leaders
The real question we should be asking is this: What’s the difference between leaders and non-leaders? This question has merit.
The distinction between leaders and non-leaders is often defined by the quality of their personal interactions, their vision and their ability to influence others to deliver their best to the organization.
I’ve know hundreds of front-line employees who lead well. (Generally, businesses identify these folks early and either promote them or chase them from the organization.) Our guts tell us that we should hire only leaders, but the truth is that team dynamics, organizational mobility and other factors make it necessary and prudent to hire some non-leaders. The old cliché about too many chiefs and not enough Indians comes to mind, though the truth is that great leaders can and often do subordinate their leadership for the sake of their team’s or company’s goals and objectives. That said, I still like to have a few non-leaders around because they seem less frustrated with the mundane.
Execution is the key, and true leaders know this. “If the team can execute better without my opinion on this one, then I’ll keep my trap shut.” Leaders, more than non-leaders, understand the goals, they influence and live the vision, and they help companies grow. Leaders, however, do become discouraged when they are managed by non-leaders. Because they are leaders, they will try to manage up, though they will be quick to depart if it’s clear they cannot enact positive change in the organization.
So, what should you aspire to be? A leader, of course. If becoming a leader didn’t interest you, you would never have searched for leadership development resources like AskTheManager.com. The reason you asked the question “What’s the difference between management and leadership?” in the first place is because you wanted to improve either your leadership skills or the leadership skills of someone at your company – and recognizing the need to improve this skill set is the first step on the road of leadership development.
I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but from all accounts of the Shawn Chacon v. Ed Wade brawl, Shawn was a little more than insubordinate.
Don’t know what I’m writing about? Former Houston Astros’ starting pitcher, turned reliever, Shawn Chacon was none to happy about his recent demotion to the bullpen. When reportedly called to the carpet in the team’s dining room by Astros’ GM Ed Wade, Chacon allegedly grabbed Wade by the neck and threw him to the carpet.
Anyone and everyone in the sports world has expressed their opinion about Chacon. My favorite sports guys, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg (hosts of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning), took the safest route by admonishing Chacon and supporting the Astros’ in their decision to suspend and eventually release Chacon. It is doubtful the 30-year-old right-hander will pitch again in the Majors, not necessarily because of the fight, he’s just not very good this season.
But enough about baseball, this blog is about Leadership Development.
While I agree Chacon should have been released, I don’t think the Astros went far enough with him (I actually think he should have been arrested). Nor do I think they went far enough with GM Ed Wade (I think he should have been fired).
Fired? You want the guy fired for getting the crap kicked out of him at dinner? Actually, yes, and here’s why…
Leaders do not admonish their subordinates in front of others (as Wade reportedly did in this instance). If you think hotheads exist in sports, try working in the logging, construction, or trucking industries. If a General Manager in any of those businesses treated their teammates the way Wade is alleged to have treated Chacon, they could expect similar treatment. Moreover, they could expect to have a poor record of growth, high turnover and low employee morale. Eventually, this poor performance would cost them their job.
Just because it’s Major League Baseball, it doesn’t change the dynamics of leadership. True leaders serve their team, not the other way around. When insubordinate subordinates surface, true leaders take steps to keep the situation under control. Specifically, they understand people and how to (happily) get the most out of them. When they’re faced with a hot-headed employee, true leaders work to ensure their safety, the employee’s safety and the safety of those around them.
While no one deserves to be physically attacked for verbally berating another, true leaders understand that the old “sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you” saying doesn’t really apply much after the second grade, and certainly not in Major League Baseball.
Chacon, deservedly so, is now a footnote and a punch line. Wade, unfortunately, is still employed by a team sitting 10 ½ games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs. Perhaps Chacon would still be helping the Astros to another mediocre finish if his General Manager wasn’t trying so hard to prove who’s in charge. It sounds to me like the Astros are suffering from the kind of leadership that leads to poor growth and low employee morale – could it be their GM?
I received the following question from a reader this week:
“My manager is a constant procrastinator, who seems to always fail at making decisions. It’s not that he makes bad decisions, he simply won’t ever make any decision. Whenever I approach him with a suggestion, he always wants me to go back and get more data. What do you suggest?” – Amy P. from Cincinnati, OH
I feel like Amy is not alone out there, so I decided to post my reply to her in this blog. Here is what I shared with Amy from Cincinnati:
Amy, wow, what a great question! If it’s any comfort to you, please understand that the situation with your manager is not unique. (I actually don’t take comfort in knowing that, because it means there is a rash of inaction stifling corporate America.)
It sounds to me like your manager could be suffering from a number of ailments, including unclear goals, low self-esteem and very little business acumen. While all of these present a great oppotunity for leadership development and management training, I can’t really teach business acumen via an email reply, nor can I deal with your manager’s “mommy” issues; I can, however, address his inability to understand your company’s goal (singular) and apply that knowledge to decision making.
What is the goal of Microsoft? How about your local dry cleaner? What is Home Depot’s goal? Finally, what is the goal of your company?
If you think the goal of Microsoft is to create innovative software solutions, you’re missing the big picture. If you believe the goal of your local dry cleaner is to get your shirts cleaned and pressed, you’re not seeing the forest for the trees.
There is only one right answer for all four companies. What is the goal? To make money for the owners of the company. (Amy, this is something that your manager probably struggles to comprehend.)
All “for profit” businesses share the same goal – to give their shareholders/owners a return on their investments. While this may seem insensitive or unfocused, I assure you, it’s not. The fact that Home Depot sells lumber is irrelevant – and it’s certainly not their goal. Selling lumber could be Home Depot’s profession, industry or expertise; but it’s certainly not their goal.
Why is it important to so narrowly focus the goal on only providing owners with a financial gain? Because placing your attention on the most important aspect of your business provides you and your team simplicity in making management decisions. By understanding that the goal of your company is to make money for the owners, your manager can begin to weigh all decisions against this standard, rather than trying to assess decisions against some key performance measurement (KPM). There’s nothing wrong with KPMs – they tell you how you’re doing in specific areas of the business that, collectively, are meant to drive dollars into the pockets of the owners. However, we’ve all witnessed examples of companies chasing a particular KPM only to see net profits decline.
Amy, have you ever seen a situation like this at your company?
Was there ever a time your company worked hard to reduce some inconvenience like customer support hold times, only to increase labor costs resulting in slimmer margins?
(Feel free to insert your own KPM in that question, I’m sure you can find plenty of instances where you chased some metric at the expense of profit.)
The reason that unilaterally driving down customer support hold times in this question drove expenses higher is simple: it was unilateral. The changes made only considered the relatively minor issue of customer support hold times, while completely forgetting about the overriding goal of making money for the owners. We could achieve a zero seconds hold time for customers if we hired a thousand operators, but that would be too costly. There is an equilibrium that exists where we can maximize profits and minimize hold times, but I assure you, we will still have customers on hold.
Using the goal of making money for the owners – whether it’s increasing share value or providing better EBITDA – to help you make decisions is so simple, it’s almost silly. Here’s how it works: take any decision, situation, problem or issue you’re faced with and ask yourself this question: Does deciding to do “Y” lead me closer to the goal of making money for the owners? If yes, then do it. If no, then don’t. If you’re unsure, then don’t do it or go back and get more data.
More data? Are you crazy? My manager is awash in data. It’s why he never makes a decision. (At least that’s what I assume you’re saying, Amy.)
If this is how you reacted to my call for more data, then your manager could be suffering from the clichéd “analysis paralysis.” Why does he do this? I’m not sure, though I do believe that most managers who require more and more data and still never make a decision suffer from a lack of understanding about the true goal of the company. The only analysis necessary is this: does it make more money for the owners versus the alternative?
The real harm with analysis paralysis is two-fold: first, decisions are put off until they become irrelevant; and second, the cost of perfect information is too great to require it for virtually every decision you’re faced with in your first twenty or so years of management.
At the end of the day, someone needs to sit down with your manager and explain that there are no perfect decisions, and that if we do “Z” we expect to make “C.” Fortunately for you, Amy, that person is you. You recognize the problem and you are the person most likely to solve it. (You cared enough to contact me, anyway.)
Don’t worry, take a breath and do the following with the next issue: do a little analysis on what the company can expect if you choose “A” or “B.” Take the findings to your manager and provide him with a recommendation. Here’s an example:
“Mr. Manager, I analyzed our problem with ‘X,’ and I think we need to either do ‘A’ or ‘B’ right away. If we do ‘A,’ we can expect a 10% decline in customer satisfaction and a long-term hit to our profitability. If we do ‘B,’ we expect to see no change in customer satisfaction and steady profitability. I think we should do ‘B,’ wouldn’t you agree?”
The tie down at the end of that statement is an old salesman’s trick that should work for you. You are, in fact, selling your manager on the decision. If your manager still tries to pause for even a second, say something like “I really think it will hurt us to wait on this, ‘B’ is clearly the right choice, don’t you agree?”
I would be surprised if he didn’t agree, though if he still can’t make a decision, I suggest you check out the following job sites: