As is the case with an abundance of simple truths in the world of organizational leadership, Tom Peters, co-author of “In Search of Excellence”, usually gets there first.
A close associate of mine heard him speak many years ago and had the chance to exchange a few words with him after the keynote. She expressed that working for him would be a dream job, and that it would be wonderful to spend the rest of her career in his employ. Peters responded a bit cryptically with, “Perhaps for a time.”
When she asked Peters what he meant, he responded, “There is a time in which you can learn from my experience, a time in which the organization can profit from your effort, and a time to say goodbye.”
Given the current state of organizational relationships and loyalty, Peters definitely got there first.
Looking upon today’s no-normal economics and the very different relationship between employee and organization, it’s clear to me that there indeed is a time, and that time is now.
According to recent report by Forbes.com, today’s worker stays an average of 4.4 years in a given job. In fact, the same worker expects to stay less than three years and soon will only remain with an organization for just over two years. I regularly poll participant groups as to how long they expect to stay in their current job, and the results confirm Forbes’ data.
The simple truth self-evident — “now” is shrinking, fading and shifting, and as a leader of others, your time to teach and to profit is diminished in kind.
There is a time, and it is now. Our job is to teach, to engage and to enable profit to the enterprise. Leadership cannot be an annual, twice-yearly or quarterly event. Your time is now, every day, and every time someone knocks to ask if you ‘have a minute’. When it comes to futuring in a no normal world, it’s not a career path, but a career post that beckons. It’s a short horizon, now means right now. And, as leaders we can adapt.
We’ve been trained to plan and execute on a yearly basis, but a lot can happen in 12 months with unexpected and sometimes unimaginable events wrecking the most carefully laid plans. Condition your people, and yourself to the constant scan of a 90-day performance horizon.
There is a relevant adage citing that most of our problems spring from one of two reasons; we act without thinking or think without acting. I would submit that in a no-normal world the failing lies in the latter rather than the former. Premeditate frequent, pointed, consistent interactions with the people that are important to you – there is a time for effective interaction, and that time is now.