So I used to work for an automotive manufacturer, and the plant had a day and night shift. The night shift ran with just supervisors while the day shift ran with management all the way to executives on site. Guess which shift was more productive and had the least amount of quality defects? The night shift.
So the moral of the story here is this. Most organisations reward good skill sets. Retailers makes the best sales executive the sales manager, and then when the team can’t make target they fire them one by one. They forget that the manager used to make up sixty percent of the target because he was that good. They didn’t reward his hard work, the made him manager to reward his skill set.
The point is, it is good to have skill sets of your own. To be good at something. Or else you cannot earn anybody’s respect. And your career will not move anywhere. But in the same breath it is not the skill set that will make you a good executive. In fact what makes you a good executive is the competence to see things that do not exist.
Remember an executive lives in a world that does not exist. His job is to prepare the organisation to function some day in the future. So he is thinking and planning to run a company that doesn’t exist. For example the CEO at Eskom is planning for an electrical company that does not use coal. You have a whole multi-level organisation that is designed to work in an environment where coal is the biggest raw material. But the CEO’s job is to see in his head, how these departments, divisions, and sub departments will function and be synergised in a world where they are without coal.
The executives of all automotive companies are seeing a world where all cars will be using electricity instead of petrol. The same electricity that is generated using coal by a company which is planning not to have coal in 10 years’ time. Imagine that. So both executive are planning for a world that does not exists. And they need to make it happen, even though they don’t even speak to each other.
Imagine the car company executive building a car that only functions using electricity derived from coal, while the guy at Eskom is planning to generate electricity from something else. It all sounds uncoordinated, but that is exactly how the world works. No wonder we have so many cataclysm in the human race. And yet somehow the world seems to move forward and people evolve.
Being a good executive means you need to learn to train your mind to see the links between things. You need to see, in your mind’s eye, how one department impacts on another. That is the first step. You need to see the synergies between what is seemingly unrelated and know exactly how one affects the other. Or better yet how one area makes the other department’s life easier. You can do that with your own job. And if you are studying make the link between subjects.
This is why some people at varsity always seemed to finish studying faster that the rest of us. Those people we able to see the link between subjects and didn’t waste time learning exactly what they learned in another class. Simply because it is being presented from a different angle. Remember you cannot plan for a world that does not exist. If in your mind, you are unable to see how the current world functions, divisions and departments will interact in this new world. You cannot imagine how they will operate then, if you cannot understand how they work today.
Most manager and executives especially those that get promoted because of their skill set, spend so much time triple checking what is happening in operational functions that the people end up being less productive and stressed. This is why the day shift at the plant was so unproductive. They spent most of the day answering questions from management. While the night shift were left to their work.
Good executives hire good people and they let them be. They spend their time planning for a world that does not exist. So if you want to be a good executive learn to see the links between things. Watch the news and you will see what I am talking about. Watch the executives in your own environment and you will understand.
Just a thought
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A. Dikgale