Generals Win Battles, But Sergeants Win Wars

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Anybody who has been in the military knows it’s true. The General might get the credit for an incredible strategy or an inspirational style. But if you want to win battle after battle so that you win the war, good sergeants are the key. It’s the same for business.

Leadership is a lot like thunder. There’s lots of leadership noise and commotion that gets your attention. But, as the song says, “Thunder’s just a noise, boys; lightning does the work.” Supervision is lightning.

The work that makes an organization go is the work that happens on the front line. In a business, that’s the places where your organization touches the customer. The people that do that job make or break your company with thousands of decisions and actions every day.

And what has the greatest impact on those decisions and those actions? Supervisors.

Supervisors make sure people understand what’s expected of them. Supervisors follow up to make sure understanding and performance match up. Skip that part, and you’ll leave everybody on the front line to figure things out on their own. That’s a recipe for disaster.

The Gallup people did a survey of what makes workers productive. They found that no single factor predicts the productivity of an employee more than his or her direct relationship with the supervisor. In other words, productivity has more to do with supervision than it has to do with training, or salary and benefits, or just about anything else.

Boss’s Bottom Line

If you’re a front line supervisor, the above can make you a bit cocky. Just remember that part of your job is to help your boss and your organization succeed.

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