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Perkins: Fall 2012

LEAD MANAGING TOWARD GROWTH

Ernie Perkins, Th. D., D. Min., Ed. D., Ph. D.

CTRTC, Faculty Member Glasser Institute, Primary Certification REBT

 

Organizations are created because of situations. A particular situation creates an organization, but then the situation changes, and there is no longer a reason for the organization. Yet, the organization remains and though the purpose for which it was first created has disappeared, the organization has not. When this happens, the organization must find an existing situation in which it can relate, or create a new one to give it needed direction.

 

An example is the “March of Dimes” organization. That organization was established in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat polio. When polio was defeated by the development of the Salk vaccine, the March of Dimes faced a choice: to disband or to dedicate its resources to a new mission, since they had outlived the original situation/mission for which it was created. (ref: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.)

 

In turn, every organization should have a legitimate reason for existing; if it has no legitimate reason for being, it ought to be buried. However, what are the legitimate reasons that justify an organization’s existence? There are many, among which are the following: fellowship, entertainment, creating solutions to problems, and carrying out a commission or assignment.

 

Any organization that has a legitimate reason for existing should be a growing organization. That “growth” can be numerical growth or developmental growth, but unless it is growing, it is basically dying.

 

Some organizations cannot grow numerically. A baseball team is one such organization. Its league has rules concerning the number that each team can have. The manager can rotate players off and on to the team but he/she cannot add to the total number on the team. However, the team’s manager will want the team to develop into a well-functioning team that can work together to win ball games. S/he will want the team to grow developmentally/professionally. There are many organizations like the baseball team example that cannot grow numerically, but can and should have developmental/professional growth goals and/or directives.

 

There are only three reasons why an organization is not growing. These are: an inadequate community, an inadequate program, and/or an inadequate leadership.

 

Community

 

An organization must have the community for growth. If the community isn’t there, growth isn’t possible. The company that produced buggy whips found that with the development of the automobile industry in America, the buggy whip community grew smaller and smaller each year. While they could continue to produce buggy whips, without a substantial demand to do so, such productivity would be foolish. With a declining possibility for numerical growth, they could instead emphasize developmental growth. Their goal could have been to study the buggy whip and find ways to make it better. They could have been successful in their effort and could have created the best buggy whip in America. But, developmental growth, in this case, would not have kept them in business. For some organizations, numerical growth is a necessary commodity, and without it, the organization will surely die. If the community does not have a population in which growth is possible, the organization will have to decide to disband or change. They will either remain as they are and try to reach a declining community; or they will locate to a new and/or different community; or they will change with the community. Many will choose to do option one, because options two and three require that they change. Non-lead managers usually like the organization the way it is because they have grown up with it and are comfortable with it. They can continue to run the organization operating in autopilot mode (Perkins, 2010).

 

Leadership

 

The preceding sentences introduce another reason for non-growth . . . inadequate leadership. Many believe it is impossible to motive another person. They view this as a form of trying to exercise external control. However, I believe that it is possible to create a spirit, an attitude, an astrosphere within the organization in which motivation is achieved. Many, if not most, organizations will take on the personality of its leadership. If the leader has a subdued personality and operates with a low-key, less-than-enthusiastic, leadership style, the organization will likely develop those same characteristics over a period of time. New persons coming into the organization will soon adopt these same characteristics too. The individual has a tendency to blend in with the group. If, on the other hand, the leader is enthusiastic, highly-upbeat in his or her leadership style, then the organization will once again become like its leader. New employees will also catch the spirit and choose to identify with the emotional attitudes of the company. While motivation may not be forced, it is a highly contagious thing and can literally change the organization.

 

Programs and/or Purpose

 

However, for leadership to be effective, it must not only have a contagious spirit, it must have a direction . . . a purpose. Until the leader can clearly articulate where s/he wants the organization to go, the shareholders will not see it as a question of leadership, but a question of accountability.

 

If the community is favorable for growth, and the organization is not growing, then, the problem could be an inadequate program or product.

 

The young man expressed his frustrations by saying, “They just won’t let me be the leader.”

 

“Where are you wishing to take them?” I asked.

 

With a puzzle look he asked, “What do you mean?”

 

“Unless you have clearly charted out a goal and a strategy for reaching that goal, why should anyone in the organization follow you? A successful organization is not ‘three little lambs that have lost their way,’ but a moving, changing, growing organization should know where it is going and have a plan for getting there.”

 

While there are scores of books written outlining organizational growth, I have found a very simple little outline that I have encouraged lead managers to adapt for years. That outline is as follows:

1. Know what the possibilities are for the organization to grow.

2. Reorganize whatever is necessary for the organization to grow.

3. Find and train the leaders necessary for growth.

4. Provide whatever space is needed for growth.

5. Go for growth.

 

Let’s discuss each of these characteristics:

 

First, as has been pointed out previously in this article, the organization must know what its potential is for growth. To build a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s on a dead-end road in the desert of Utah with no houses within fifty miles would be very foolish. Yet, some organizations are often trying to develop a growth formula when the potential just isn’t there. Does the organization have a needed product? If the product is needed, is it needed where the organization can market it? If the product is needed, does the population realize its need? These are some of the questions that can help the lead manager determine the possibilities.

 

Second, is the organization in its current form capable of growth? Change does not come easy, especially in difficult financial times. There are also emotional feelings connected to change that are similar to those connected to a death. Change can, and many times does, have an echo of death tolls because a way of doing things (for some, a way of life) is dying. One can expect to feel denial, anger, bargaining, and depression from members of the organization if change is necessary. Some in the organization will not be able to walk through the emotional minefield and will choose to leave the organization. Others may stay with the organization, but become underground warriors fighting the leadership in a subtle battle. The lead manager will have to identify these individuals and either challenge them to accept these changes, or let them go. There will be others, however, who will develop a spirit of acceptance. They may not like the changes initially, but they will accept them and try to be supportive and work with them with time. They will be a true asset to the organization, and should be greatly encouraged to stay and grow.

 

Third, as the organization changes, it may find the need for additional workers. The lead managers will see to it that the new workers will be trained and orientated toward the goal(s) of the organization. Organizations have a tendency to believe that every vacancy must have a warm body in its place. But a round peg will not fit into a square hole. That is, some positions are best left unfilled until the right person can be found and/or developed for the task that the position requires. Remember that the lead manager does not need to surround him/herself with negative-thinking, unproductive people; therefore s/he will look for a certain spirit from potential workers more so than for certain skills. If the person is intelligent, s/he can be trained to do the work, but training cannot instill the needed spirit. While it can be argued that a good lead manager will produce in the workers the qualities that are needed, the fact remains that no one can make another into what s/he wants that person to be. The person must be willing to change and if the willingness is not there, then there is no way the change will take place. Simply put, external control is not possible.

 

Four, what will be the space requirement for growth? Can we rearrange what we have, or will we need to build or move to have the space that will be needed? An organization that has been in the same location for years has produced a comfortable settling-in attitude. Pictures have been hung, shelves have been built, memories have been born, and even at the cost of growth, some will not want to give up their space. This will be one more aspect of the change that the organization will need to go through if it truly wishes to grow.

 

Five, a progressive plan for getting the population and the product together will need to be developed. It is not true that “if we build it, they will come.” That is a good motto for a movie, but it is a poor motto for a company. On the other hand, it is also a poor practice to believe that “if they come, we will build it.” Growth takes preparation. Coach Bobby Knight once said that good luck is most likely to occur when preparation meets opportunity. Said somewhat differently, organizations need to prepare themselves to succeed and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. Notably, though, organizations shouldn’t wait too long. Rather, they should never wait for “good opportunities.” Instead, they should simply strive to be “good” to “every opportunity!”

 

Along this line, the lead manager does not want to have an Alice in Wonderland administration, i.e., Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don't know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn't matter.” Hence, if you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there, but if you want your organization to grow, either developmentally or numerically, you must have specifiable goals and workable plans to achieve them.

 

Reference

 

Perkins, E. (2010). An idealist on a ship named reality. International Journal of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, 30 (1), 17-22.

 

Brief Bio

Ernie Perkins is a motivational speaker, an educator (three masters and four earned doctorates), counselor (CTRTC, WGI Faculty Member), and humorist. He will speak over 200 times a year to groups from several to several hundred. He is often used as a humorist entertainer. He keeps his furniture in his home in Edmond, Oklahoma, and tries to come by to check on it a couple of days each month. His wife of fifty-one years, Wanda, is his travel and ministry companion.