In the 1987 classic movie, “The Princess Bride,” there is a scene where the hero, Westley, is thought have been killed by his nemesis, Prince Humperdink. His friends bring him to the home of Miracle Max, who proclaims that in fact, Westley is not completely dead, but merely MOSTLY dead.
Perhaps an odd transition to organization strategy, but it was the analogy that leapt to mind when reading a recent blog post from Harvard Business Publishing entitled, Lessons Learned from 30 Years of Leadership .
While I am getting uncomfortably close to that milestone myself, I will let Tony Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball and Dick Harrington, former CEO of Thomson Reuters speak for me as they talk about the three most important lessons Harrington has learned over his long career:
First: Having a ‘directionally correct’ strategy (Lesson Learned: Don’t get caught in the minutia)
Second: Execution focus – alignment and communication (Lesson Learned: Organizational clarity around a small number of ‘must do’ objectives is crucial)
Third: Build in systems to ensure true customer intimacy (Lesson Learned: Never assume that you know everything about your customer’s needs)
Simple yet eloquent points that never go out of style; worth communicating over and over again.
Many years ago, as a young Managing Director with Federal Express, I attended a meeting for Sales and Operations Directors and above. I can’t remember the purpose of the meeting, but do recall an impassioned speech given by our COO Jim Barksdale (who subsequently became CEO at Netscape). I vividly remember him saying at one point, “You people are always looking for the 100% solution and nothing gets done around here. Give me 80% every time”.
In other words, get it MOSTLY right, focus, execute, and iterate as necessary.
What leadership lessons are important to you? Is getting it “mostly right”, good enough for you?