Too often, policies, procedures, and bureaucracy can slow necessary changes to a crawl, and negatively affect a company’s bottom line.
Leadership expert and Fast Track friend Gordon Tredgold has written a new book in which he shares his four essential principals of leadership. Using the acronym of FAST (for Focus, Accountability, Simplicity, and Transparency), the book explores how Tredgold used human nature in his favor, turning around failing projects, under-performing departments, and money-losing companies.
In any aspect of our lives, personal or professional, focus can be summarized in one theme, one meaning, and one word: “what.” Focus is all about clarifying the questions concerning what we’re doing. The only way we can align ourselves with our purpose is by being aware of, believing in, and ensuring that this “what” is what we want to be striving toward. The most important steps of a journey aren’t the quickest or heaviest steps; they are the ones that are pointed in the right direction. Tredgold recommends that we constantly ask ourselves these questions, and that we be clear about the answers.
If focus concerns the “what” of our goal, accountability refers to the “who.” Failures occur because it is never clarified who is accountable for actually getting the job done. Whether this is a personal goal or a professional endeavor, we are the leaders of ourselves and our businesses. So the “who” is, first and foremost, us, and these are the key questions.
We can delegate responsibilities, but we should never shrug off our personal accountability. If we do, it’s typically under the harsh beam of failure, meaning that we are looking for someone to blame. Of course, this method is starkly counterintuitive to success and progress. It is the leader’s duty to ensure the success of the team, and the leader defines the culture of an organization. If we want that culture to be one where people accept accountability, we must lead by example.
Since focus hones in on the “what” and accountability centers around the “who” of the situation, simplicity addresses the “how.” The simpler we can keep things, the easier it is to effectively communicate to our team, and the easier it is for our teams to understand what needs to be done. These questions help us keep our work from getting too complex.
In a world of screaming urgencies, countless choices, and responsibility overload, complexity reigns. We feel doomed by the mere thought of how much we have to do. Worse, it seems we never manage to do it all. But our days don’t have to be that way. On the fast track of success, simplicity is the most powerful tool.
Now that we have focus, accountability, and simplicity covered, it’s time to place the final piece of the puzzle: transparency. Transparency is the “where.” It’s about marking progress and tracking time. We ensure transparency by reminding ourselves of these questions:
Being fully transparent is an honest and authentic way of doing business. It means sharing clear and accurate data, based on facts and delivered in a timely manner. Transparency is the consciousness of where we stand and the illumination of a map that shows where we need to go next.
For more on Gordon's approach, check out FAST: 4 Principles Every Business Needs to Achieve Success and Drive Results.