Magazine article Ivey Business Journal Online

Go to People: What Every Organization Should Have

Magazine article Ivey Business Journal Online

Go to People: What Every Organization Should Have

Article excerpt

In sports, he or she is the player everyone else on the team wants to have the last shot to tie or win the game, the player who makes everyone else on the team feel like winners. As in the world of sports, so too in the world of business organizations. But who are they and how do you find them in large and small organizations? This author has the helpful answers.

"You know", said the newly appointed CEO of a large company, "I have more than 1000 people in my head office organization; 900 can tell me something's gone wrong, 90 can tell me what's gone wrong, nine can tell me why it went wrong, and one can actually fix it!"

While the statement above may be an exaggeration, the essential point comes across: Every organization has a few people - very few people - who are its "Go-To" people....those to whom you can turn when you want a difficult situation sorted out, who will get the job done on time and on budget, and who won't come up with a dozen reasons why it can't be done but will discover how to do it.

Who are these "Go-To" people? What is it they do? What makes them so effective? And how do you develop more of them in your organization? This article will answer these questions.


These "Go-To" people - GTs for short - are different in many ways from other people in our organizations not necessarily because they have unique skills but because of the ways these skills are configured and associated with other leadership characteristics.

* They know how their organizations work and how to work their organizations. They have what we might recognize today as both emotional and social intelligence - a keen understanding at both intellectual and intuitive levels of the people who make decisions in organizations, what motivates them, what skills and capabilities they have and, therefore, what levers they can pull as change agents to get them to do what needs to be done.(Both "emotional intelligence" and "social intelligence" were coined by Daniel Goleman). They understand that they have the ability to help people achieve what they want to achieve - they are great enablers, they clear away road blocks, they resolve impasses and deadlocks that are frustrating people. And they use those skills to build support for required actions.

* They are politically astute without being corporate politicians. They understand that large organizations are political entities driven by individuals and coalitions with their own interests and ideologies. They know that they have to build multiple coalitions of the willing in order to effect change and sometimes overcome resistance to change by skeptics. They understand how to help people see how to achieve their own goals by going along with the required change even though their motivation for doing so may not be the purest. In this way, they are political back-room operatives, welding together a critical mass of supporters and holding them together through the change process. It is sometimes a bit like making sausages - doesn't look that pretty, but in the end they taste just fine. But unlike many political operatives the GTs are seen as dedicated to the goals of the organization, rather than feathering their own nests. This leaves them with the reputation for being politically astute rather than being labeled with the stigma of being a corporate politician.

* They know how to use power when it's needed but seldom use it, preferring to influence and persuade others to get-with-the-program (1). G-Ts recognize that people tend to be influenced by people they like, so they work at being quite likeable rather than overbearing, demanding or abrasive; they recognize that people are often influenced by expertise, so they bring that to bear either through their own expertise or by recruiting experts who can support them; they recognize that people tend to be influenced by "people like them" they build coalitions of like minded-people with whom resistors to change want to be associated; they recognize that people are persuaded by those they, in turn, can persuade so they open themselves up to inputs, suggestions and recommendations from those they are trying to persuade; they recognize that people want most what they often have least of in organizations - recognition - and they reward people who get-with-the-program with recognition for doing so. …

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