We all love the "oh-so-cool" person who can just "wing it" in any situation, don't we? That's why we admire (and secretly want to be) James Bond - the guy who can go through a brutal, life-or-death fight with armed assassins, and then thirty minutes later stroll into a high-stakes poker game (in a perfectly-tailored, freshly-pressed tuxedo, of course) looking like he just had a facial and manicure.
We all want to be the person who, off-the-cuff, always says the perfect thing.
Of course, we're not that person, right? The truth is that those perfect bon mots that Daniel Craig tosses of as Bond are written by teams of writers in four or five (or more) drafts over a period of days - or even weeks.
And yet some people still try to "wing it." In their job, their career, their relationships, their life. They don't seem to get that this is it! This is not a rehearsal; this is the show!
For much of my professional life, I was a TV producer. And the first rule of being a successful TV producer is this: you have to know what show you're producing! If you show up on the set of Grey's Anatomy thinking you're producing an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, things aren't likely to go well (although it probably will be a memorable episode of Grey's).
When Steven Spielberg showed up for the first day of shooting for Jurassic Park, do you think he looked around and said, "Hey, maybe we could do something with dinosaurs!" Of course not! He'd already done the work. He had every shot planned and storyboarded.
So why should you take your work any less seriously than Steven Spielberg takes his? After all, you want a successful outcome just as much as he does, don't you?
In that case, step one is to determine exactly what that outcome is. What target are you aiming for? What show do you want to produce? I know this sounds simplistic, and that you've heard it over and over again. But hearing it and doing it are two completely different things, and my research shows me that few leaders know, with crystal-clear accuracy, what they want to achieve.
Oh, they say things like, "increased productivity," or "better profits," or the ultimate in unclear goals, "success." But until you know exactly what these things mean - until you have a way to measure them - you'll never know if you're getting closer or further away, much less if you've achieved them!
Few leaders know, with crystal-clear accuracy, what they want to achieve. And even if they do, even fewer have communicated this vision with their teams. They may think they have, but the research shows otherwise. (You might want to sit down for this.)
The research shows that, on average, only one employee in seven can name even one of their organization's most important goals. This means that, in your organization, 85% of your team members have no idea what it is that you're trying to accomplish. So they come into work each day, and they wing it.
And then you wonder why you're not accomplishing your goals.
You've heard it before, but this time I want you to do something about it. Figure out what your goal is - figure out your "show" - in a way that is clear and measurable. And then make sure that your team knows the goal, and can measure it along with you.
That's how you produce a winning show.
By Bill Stainton
For 15 years, Executive Producer Bill Stainton led his team to more than 100 Emmy Awards and 10 straight years of #1 ratings. Today Bill helps leaders achieve those kinds of results--in THEIR world and with THEIR teams. His website is http://www.BillStainton.com