The art and philosophy of leadership and management

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During my 51 years as an accountant, attorney, corporate executive and college professor I have observed and experienced transactions and events that have influenced my leadership and management philosophy.

Below is a litany of concepts, which taken as a whole embody my philosophy. My pride of authorship resides in the coordinated application of these concepts.

Agent of change: In times of corporate difficulty the manager must lead his staff out of the abyss. The manager is the leader who must navigate the path to be followed by the organization as well as the staff.

All actions are decisions: A manager must be aware that he is always being observed. Doing is always seen; not doing is always detected. The nature of management is being observed.

All things to all people niche: Be very good at something important. Do not waste time and money competing for the given. Wait, watch, execute.

Argue not for now but for next time: Establish awareness in others that you are always alert (the Billy Martin philosophy).

Army of lions led by a lamb never defeats army of lambs led by a lion (paraphrased from Alexander the Great): Leadership can overcome shortcomings in resources. Confidence in leadership is a management need.

Authority/responsibility: One without the other is a guarantee of failure. The Supreme Court without the confidence and concurrence of the populace would be ineffective. So is any manager.

Blame/responsibility: Only hold accountable the one who is.

Capacity to learn is as valuable as the knowledge to be gained: A way of saying an open mind is the tabernacle of inspired reasoning. Listening is as good a vehicle to learning as reading.

Chapter heading knowledge: My buzz phrase for the ultimate phony who tries to impress with words rather than substance. Always engage in a degree of detail to indicate real knowledge.

Character by challenge: The measure of a manager's character is more dependent on the challenges he provides himself rather than the obstacles presented by others.

Committed cost/discretionary cost: Be mindful of what comes with the territory before investing resources. If you operate a building, you are going to have certain costs, insurance, depreciation, et al. If you have employees, you will have benefit costs.

Compensated absence day: Does away with the distinction between absences caused by sickness or vacation. It eliminates sick day lies. Your chance of reducing nonproductive time will increase if you shift the risk.

Conflict of interest/lack of interest: Be mindful that some people's interest is solely self-directed no matter how worthy the cause. Do not waste time and effort educating the disinterested.

Cost/price: There is a difference and well there should be. One need not be an accountant to realize this fact.

Defer/decide: Anyone can defer; it takes a leader to decide. Deferrals will exponentially increase the number of unnecessary decisions.

Diagnose/treatment: Do the former before the latter. A balance of one's efforts is necessary in leadership and management.

Equity cannot always be measured in dollars: Personal equity (i.e. sweat, intellectual or time) has value that equates to economic equity.

Exposure/knowledge: Do not confuse being at the game with playing it. Thirty years’ experience or one year's experience thirty times.

Fixed/variable: Not all actions evoke responses and some costs are not subject to activity. How fixed some costs are, i.e. not subject to volume-influenced variation, is directly influenced by the fixation of the manager.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up: Attention breeds success.

Franchise: At best what we have is a temporal lease. Recognition that each and every activity is a potential franchise that is important from a cost control standpoint.

Function vs. responsibility: A leader can tell the difference.

Good news/bad news: Good news properly communicated will travel as fast as bad news that is not communicated at all.

Information is power: In any large organization there exists the desire by the masses to have information. Failure to provide information results in the filling of the "information vacuum" with hearsay, rumor or other forms of false information.

Isoresource: A unit of measure that is indicative and can be compared.

Job/career: Do not confuse the battle with the war. The perception that is received is not always the image that one projects.

Lead, follow or get out of the way: But whatever you do, decide (George Steinbrenner).

Life is like a ballgame: The better you understand the rules and the more you practice, the better you become—but eventually time runs out.

I see, I like, I own: The satisfaction of doing not of having done.

Maintainer/innovator: The mechanic or the architect.

Management by design: Do not leave to chance what can be planned. Planning is a science and proper planning is an art.

Manager: Motivate, Administer, Negotiate, Adhere, Goal, Ethics, Results. The artist at work.

Memorable person: Someone who does not remind you of anyone else.

Memory vs. knowledge: A good memory can mask the lack of true knowledge.

Occupancy/vacancy: Is the cup half full or half empty?

Opportunity cost: The awareness that every decision voids the ability to seek an alternative course of action. Remember, not all costs are measured in dollars—some are measured in good sense.

Other people’s money: The best form of investment risk (Victor Kiam).

Owner/steward: Every shepherd knows his flock. To be successful one must have a sense of equity and be able to share that sense.

Past/future: The present is the future's past memories.

Perception is reality: Left alone or uneducated one will draw his own conclusions based on his ignorance. Be mindful that everyone is following his tract; ergo one's reality can be another's perception. The further the separation in time, the finer the perception.

Pie of success: If achieving a greater slice of the market share pie seems improbable, draw a larger pie. Sometimes you must extend your borders to reach your goals.

Policy is set at the top, decisions are made everywhere else: Fact.

Power/authority: ex. Supreme Court.

Problem/opportunity: One person or organization’s problem is another’s opportunity.

Quality/quantity: The quality of leadership will always compensate for the lack of a quantity of followers. But the quantity of followers will never improve the quality of the leader.

Reachability: The principal aspect of goal setting.

Reactive/proactive: The first mover always sets the stage. Every action evokes a reaction; a proactive manager can keep reactionary responses to a minimum.

Resource inventory- time/equipment/money/people/policies & procedures/space: Each task requires the careful weighting and inventorying of one's assets before the utilization or deployment of those assets. An effective plan will always involve the allocation of resources.

Rex vini/master of the feast: The leader. Many are called and few are chosen—but even fewer serve effectively.

Skill—ability to activate knowledge: Fact. The currency of knowledge is the skill in action.

Smart vs. clever: Smart equals one dose of knowledge plus one dose of common sense plus one dose of experience plus one dose of memory. Clever equals half a dose of smart plus one and a half doses of common sense plus two doses of experience.

Spender has no financial tie: In order to control costs, expenders must be under control.

Team concept: All managers are members of the management "team," but like any team there must be a manager and coaches.

Thinkable/doable: If it's thinkable, it's doable. What man conceives he can implement.

Third party authority: A subordinate's use of his superior's name or office to carry out a directive. For example, the boss wants you to... Third party authority is not only dishonest, but self-defeating.

Wage/equity: We all need to own a piece of what we do. Not all ownership is “deeded,” for example, knowledge.

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