Leaders Understand the Importance of Tools

Gerwig 2016-01-01

Have you ever been “the odd man out?” For those not familiar with this expression, it simply means, have you ever felt left out, like you didn’t belong. I was the “odd man out” recently on a trip to New York City. My family had decided to take the train into Grand Central Terminal and spend the day as tourists, taking in the sights of New York City, specifically Manhattan. Because the weather forecast called for freezing rain mixed with snow and sleet the other members of my family decided to wear their LL Bean boots (classic shoes for this type of weather). The picture of above, taken in the mud of Central Park, confirms the wisdom of their choice. Me? I don’t have LL Bean boots so I was the “odd man out.” But don’t feel sorry for me. I also had weather-appropriate shoes.

We laughed throughout the day about the boots. As a family, we looked like a walking LL Bean commercial of sorts. On the train-ride into Grand Central, on the New York subway and on the streets and alleys of Manhattan, passersby pointed at our small group of four, three wearing the same shoes. We laughed with them. Why not? It’s a silly thing after all. Who cares, really?

Regardless of what others thought, my family had made a wise selection in the selection of their footwear. The weather was nasty, cold and wet. Rain, sleet, snow, and ice. It was a great day for LL Bean boots. My family had selected the right tool for the job.

World-class leaders understand this. They understand that accomplishing goals is easier and more efficient when you have the right tools for the job. If my family had worn running shoes, would we have successfully navigated Manhattan in nasty weather? Yes. But our feet would have been cold and wet. It would have negatively impacted our overall experience.

I was reminded that great leaders select the right tools for the job:

  1. The right tool is Necessary. Sometimes you simply can’t complete the task without the right tool. You can’t drill a hole with a hammer, no matter how hard you try.
  2. The right tool is more Efficient. You can mathematically manipulate 500 numbers using a pencil and pad of paper, but using a spreadsheet is more efficient.
  3. The right tool is more Effective. You can scrape the ice from your car’s windshield using the edge of a credit card, but the result isn’t as effective as using an ice scraper.
  4. The right tool yields a better ROI. You cut the grass in your yard with a pair of hand-shears (it’s how our gardener in the Philippines completed the task) or use a lawnmower. Using hand-shears took 16 hours. Using a lawn mower would have taken about 30 minutes.

Do you understand the importance of selecting and using the right tools for the task at hand? Are your kitchen knives sharp? Do you have an ice scraper? Does your phone plan include sufficient data? Is your staff appropriately trained? Are you leveraging available technology? The Cloud? Tablets? Smartphones? Perhaps the most valuable and under-utilized tool of all is your brain. Do you understand its importance and value? Are you using it wisely?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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