Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Over Deliver

In a competitive world, how do you and I distinguish ourselves as leaders? If you’ve been reading my work for long, you know I believe being a servant leader is a great place to start. The world is starving for outstanding leadership.

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Beyond the admonition to serve, you may be wondering if I’ve got any other advice to offer.

Yes… Over Deliver.

This is not a new idea. It’s been around for ages. I’ve long been a proponent, but I haven’t written much about it. Recently, I heard Jack Welch, the former head of GE talk about it, rekindling the power of the idea for me.

The first thing that probably comes to mind when someone says, “Over Deliver,” is to provide more than what is expected. That’s not a bad idea – to deliver a project ahead of schedule and under budget would qualify as over delivering. Giving someone 13 donuts when they order 12 might also meet the definition. However, I’d suggest you consider over-delivering on a different type of activity.

Here’s an idea which may strike you as counter-intuitive:

Greatness in leadership is most often determined by the actions others do not see.

How could this idea be linked with the concept of over delivering? Here are several ways you and I can over deliver on things largely unseen…

Preparation – There’s really no substitute for preparation. Often, leaders will attempt to overcome a lack of preparation with talent. This is a shortsighted strategy. What typically happens to leaders who consistently fail to prepare is they ultimately fail to live up to their potential. They “get by” and so do their organizations.

Attention to Details – Details matter. You and I could name a thousand examples – from typographical errors to poor branding to inadequate signage to audio visual equipment that doesn’t work, and on and on. If you and I want to add value, we can ensure the details are covered. We don’t have to do the work ourselves, but it is a tremendous opportunity for leadership. To over deliver on the details is always a good idea.

Follow-through – What happens after an event? Who is responsible for what? Who has the action items? What will be communicated? Are people held accountable to do what they’ve said they would do? What lessons have been learned? What problems arose and how can they be prevented from reoccurring in the future? Were the people who did the work recognized?

Learning – My bias on this topic is huge. I’ve written about it over and over again. The best leaders are learners. If you wanted to choose just one area to over deliver in, I would suggest this one. Let’s not lose sight of what we’re trying to do – leaders create a future that does not yet exist. We’ll need all our faculties for sure; but to hedge our bets, I want to know as much as possible about:

  • Our competition – How are they changing their business and why?
  • Other industries – What can we learn to help us get better?
  • Current management and leadership theories and best practices
  • The hopes and dreams of my team members
  • Customer preferences and demographics – How are they changing?

You can’t get this type of information unless you over deliver on learning.

If your strategy is to add as much value as possible to the people and organizations you serve, my advice is to over deliver on the things people don’t see directly – let others enjoy the outcome of our efforts.

How can you over deliver this week?

 

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Comments (1)
  1. I loved this. I worked with CFA for years, and so “Second Mile Service” had been instilled in me enough that overdelivering on the front end has been a part of my life ever since, but this was great insight into the behind-the-scenes of overdelivering.

    By dedicating myself to further learning and personal discipline, I can overdeliver to the students and student mentors I work with.

    - John R. Meese