A wise marketing professor once said that when things go wrong, more often than not, it isn’t because the strategy was bad; it was because the strategy was executed poorly, or, not at all. In other words, nobody made it happen.
William Bonoma at the Harvard School of Business likened it to war. He said, in effect, without a competent, hard-charging sergeant to drive the squad up the hill, no strategy would work.
That really hit home because, at the time, I was working with Dobbs Houses, and we saw what happened when restaurant managers were moved about. In from 3-6 months, a good manager could turn around a restaurant with lousy numbers, and a lousy manager could ruin a good restaurant.
Then, if you happen to have read the book First, Break All the Rules, you might remember this sentence: “If you don’t have great front-line managers, you will suffer.”
Every business has its make-or-break point. In restaurants, it’s the individual restaurant manager. In retailing, it’s the store manager. In manufacturing, the plant manager, or, in huge plants, the department foremen. The titles may differ. The level may differ, but front-line managers determine the success of most operating companies.
Good leaders do the right things, while good managers do things right.
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