The One Exclusive Secret to Managerial Success
Denny Strigl, former president and CEO of Verizon Wireless explains the secret to managerial success when he says, “Managers have one priority and only one; deliver results.” His book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now: Hard-Hitting Lessons on How to Get Real Results, explains how.
The four exclusive fundamentals that deliver results.
“If the things you are doing as a manager don’t produce the following results, then you need to stop doing them. They are the only things that are important.”
- Grow revenue.
- Get new customers.
- Keep the customers you already have.
- Eliminate cost.
Dad went bankrupt when Denny was a freshman in college; it was a defining moment. Denny told me he didn’t want to be like his dad. He loved his dad but his dad never succeeded at business because, according to Denny, “He was wishy-washy. Dad couldn’t get specific. He couldn’t say the hard things.”
Hard work doesn’t guarantee success.
Denny explained that his dad was a hard-working, honest businessman. “I learned my work ethic from him.” Our conversation reminded me of my dad, who is still the hardest working man I know. I want to be like him. But, like Denny’s dad, my dad never succeeded at business because he was “too nice.”
How to be tough and tender?
Effectively exhibiting and appropriately applying toughness and tenderness epitomizes successful managers. If you can be tough without being mean and tender without getting walked on, you’ll rise to the top.
Respecting people balances toughness and tenderness. For example, setting high expectations respects a person’s abilities to deliver results. Giving employees authority and getting out of their way also demonstrates respect.
Denny wrote, “Any work climate that focuses on results must also possess respect.”
How do you get results while showing respect?
Eep, how can I be the first poster!?
While the NFP (not for profit) world o’ leadership is different animal, I am having trouble grappling with it seeming more different than alike from Mr Stigl’s world. (I do appreciate Verizon BTW, a very good carrier overall.)
Maybe it is the absoluteness of the values he has identified. I have to wonder about the longer term implications. Still, perhaps tough=direct
And certainly, the “respecting people balances toughness and tenderness” works.
Wonder if a slight reorder of his last comment might work… any work climate that focuses on respect will also possess results.”
Maybe it is that the focus is the end product and my preference is the journey not the end point.
I was late posting today so I guess you get to be #1. Your #1 in my book any day. 😉
It’s interesting that you bring up the nonprofit world and that you notice the absoluteness of Denny’s ideas. When I called Denny, I expected a conversation that reflected the toughness you see in his ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is pleasant, open, and helpful.
The real issue is “how” do you deliver results. What role does respect or other soft-skills play in the hard work of delivering results. For example, loosing good people because they are treated poorly won’t deliver results.
I’m posting more of my conversation with Denny this week. I also highly recommend the book. Of course, I only review books I like. 🙂
Amend this to “…one priority only, deliver LONG TERM results…” and I’ll agree. Anyone can get short term results. Cut the price. Borrow to pay the bills. Put a fresh coat of paint on. But long term results requires planning and acknowledging that short term results aren’t always good in the long run.
Thanks for adding the long-term comment. Balancing short-term with long-term results can be challenging especially when it’s a publicly traded company with shareholders who are looking for a return.
One of my first thoughts, apparently along with Doc, was to compare Mr. Stigl’s four fundamentals with my non profit world. It is a challenge to have measurable goals when the mileposts are NOT financial. Here at our organization, our number of enrollees is (depending on the year and funding) capped sometimes. The question arises of who our customer actually is – the family who gets health insurance they can afford when no other options exist, or the taxpayers who subsidize the premium, or the legislators who allocate the money? I focus on the kids but if I take my eyes off the expectations of the legislators and taxpayers, there may not be any money with which to serve the kids!
You and Denny both made references to parents and the impact they had on your expectations. As our family approaches a year of being on one spouse’s income, I wonder what our 11 year old and 14 year old are taking in when we say stuff like, “There’s no money for that.” Will it make them grow up to be profit-driven business people? Will it make them realize that money isn’t the most important thing? And to tie back to today’s theme, I hope and pray that throughout the family discussions, there’s a tone of respect.
I think the key here is in figuring out which “results” are important to deliver. Denny focused on the money (and things that directly lead to money). But many companies, including non-profits and co-ops (like where I am), are equally, or more, concerned with things like stewardship, employee development, and other not-directly-tied-to-profits results.
So, while I agree getting results is key, I think each leader and organization has to understand what kind of results they need in order to deliver on their organization’s goals and aspirations.
I really enjoy your response and I think our “focus” is the key to leadership. In my context I must understand what the “result” actually is. In the leadership paradigm I exist in, the focus is much more broad. While I am in the development world and I must keep my gaze on financial matters such as raising money for the NPO I work for, I also keep my eyes on components that feed this primary focus. Such things as employee relationships, volunteer engagement, donor relations, stakeholder relationships, etc. The monetary result is great, but what is greater still, in my opinion, are the relationships that lead to monetary result.
How often I think it can be forgotten that the word “result” has been tainted by consumerism. We need to go back to a more broad meaning to incorporate people and their development as well instead of thinking just money.
The one exclusive secret to managerial success is…..
there is no one secret.
No results = No success, so for me the title is spot on. It is easy to get lost in the four fundamentals listed above as they seem clinical, but as you rightly point out Dan (your post to Doc who really always knows how to make me chuckle, “The real issue is “how” do you deliver results”).
If you develop people, they will be more productive –> get new customers grow revenue –> keep existing customers and be efficient enough that in itself controls your cost growth.
If you take short term decisions, you will not retain customers, so it is implied for me that to get the result of retaining customers, you have to make decisions that are sustainable.
The results are one thing which is an outcome that can be measured and they will not be achieved by acting in a way that does not nurture some of the concerns I am picking up in some of the comments.
I can see how the context of looking like you are only focused on the results can mislead a person, but without the results there is no business in which to deliver all these wonderful ideologies.
Great post Dan, it shook my nerves a bit at first read, but when I think about the message and open up my interpretation, it makes perfect sense to me.
An excellent statement “Managers have one priority and only one; deliver results.” One can add timely results with value-addition and creativity. Moreover, the four points as stated are crucial to remain successful.
However, I am not in agreement that too nice people don’t succeed in business. Hard-work is essential yet one has to be focused and remain practical with the needed customer service support assuming the offerings are of best quality at a competitive price. One has to be forward-looking and invest wisely to succeed and grow.
I have a problem with the idea that only results matter. I’ve seen organizations that only care about results and it’s not a pretty sight. You have pay attention to how you obtain results. Do you act ethically? Do you take account of stakeholders who are not stockholders, such as the people who work for you or your customers or the communities where you do business? If you pay attention t both accomplishing the mission and caring for the people you also lay the groundwork for better results in the short term and the long term. For the record, I learned my leadership trade in the US Marines, hardly an organization noted for management that is “too nice.”
I am in agreement to what you have commented. Results through ethical means and human relationship are absolutely essential for long-term success. The leadership in this regard matters a lot. One needs to educate employees in e-governance and create a good healthy organization climate where people have respect for each other and the necessary good faith in management for fairness & transparency part.
I get results by connecting people with resources and vision while showing respect. I think, being and showing toughness can create result but it actually create distance. It means, as long as, you show toughness, you may get result, but when you take out that toughness, then same result may not be guaranteed. Today, managers do exactly the same things. They create fear by many ways. One way could be creating distance or being tough. I agree that respect minimise distance while being tough.
I am curious to understand, whether connecting with people actually bring breakthrough result. It seems possible, when you align people wth the goal where they find conncectivity with their goal. When manager can generate feelings of ownership in every individual, then I think, result will be sustainable; and people will feel respected.
Wholeheartedly agree with Ajay. If you are tough, direct, blunt at work but a teddybear at home, that may be justification in your mind, but your employees only see the one side. I’d rather have someone mad at me than disappointed in me.