Monday, January 14, 2013

"Do the Best You Can with What You've Got"

"Do the best you can with what you've got".  All too often I've seen leaders fall into the "I need more resources" trap.  The simple truth is even in the best organizations there never seem to be enough people and there is never enough money.  Really good leaders don't spend a lot of time making excuses or engaging in never ending conversations about what they don't have.

To be sure, there is a trap in the "can do" approach as well.  I well remember graffiti scrawled on a motor pool wall in Germany: "We've been doing so much with so little for so long we can now do everything with nothing".  The leader has an obligation to state his needs to accomplish a project or a task, and identify any critical skills or capabilities that are missing.  He also has a duty to highlight any increased exposure to safety risks that may be present.  Another special case is when there is chronic under-resourcing over a long period of time and capabilities aren't just there anymore.

More often we just get less than the ideal set of resources.  Once needs have been stated, any safety risks mitigated and the decision to move forward taken, then the leader has to act. This sometimes means supporting a decision you don't agree with.  I covered the"implementing when you disagree" subject in my 11 June 2012 blog and won't repeat it here.  I do cover the choices a leader has in that situation and suggest it as a refresher for long-time readers or for new readers of this blog.

Well led staff will often respond to the challenge, devise work-arounds to deal with any shortcomings, surprise you with their ingenuity, accomplish their task and take justifiable pride in overcoming adversity.

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