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How to Sap Energy & Steal Creativity: “Just Execute”

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Don’t think. Just do.

A talented strategic friend chatted with the vp of marketing at a medtech startup. What was the company looking for in their posted marketing hire? They just wanted someone to execute. Just execute? My friend was floored. You want to hire someone and not use their entire brain? You want to disengage the emotion that arises from thinking through a problem? You have such knowledge of the market, you’ve considered every angle, you know all there is about your target audience, you are so confident you don’t need anyone else thinking this through? Or—was the pressure so great to show results that they could not waste time on strategy. Either way, the entire conversation pointed out this was a company to avoid.

“Just execute” is corporate bully language for “Do it because I said so.” Nearly every human benefits from knowing the “what” and “why” behind an order. And even God entertained modifications to His plan while Moses verbally worked through the mission as they chatted around the burning bush.

Don’t misunderstand: there is absolutely a place for “just execute.” Stuff gotta get done. Yes. But long term, stuff gets done much more effectively when we enlist whole people to work with us. And that means bringing people along with us as we process our mission. Just say “No” to the smoky backroom where highly paid C-suiters work out the details and then send a courier with decrees out to the rank and file.

This authoritarian tendency looks even worse in a volunteer organization like a church. Because money is not a factor there—it’s all about feeding motivation. Avoiding rich conversations about “why” short circuits the process and makes whole people flee.

Whatever your position, do yourself and your organization a favor by helping people see the big picture. Helping them form and reform and personalize the big picture. Whether you are a manager, a volunteer coordinator, a pastor or lead worker on an assembly line. This is what leaders do.

And know this: Those who won’t share or budge on the big picture will not attract or retain talent. But they will find themselves starting from scratch again and again.


Image Credit: C-front

Written by kirkistan

June 29, 2012 at 5:00 am

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