Tools Trump Slogans

Maximized Leadership: Tools Trump Slogans

“Attitude is everything!”

“Dare to Achieve!”

“Just do it!”

Statements like these can serve as great rallying points for an organization.  John G. Miller states that “slogans may sound great, but in order to take the organization to higher levels, people don’t need platitudes – they need tools.” Allow me to illustrate this premise with the job of a lumberjack. Suppose you want your lumberjacks to produce more. Therefore you develop a slogan to inspire them to chop faster.

“Swinging our axes like there’s no tomorrow!”

“The Sahara was a forest before lumberjacks moved in!”

“Lumberjacks for Jesus – Chopping until the Kingdom comes!”

The lumberjacks get inspired and begin to swing harder. They drive their trucks to and from their work with fresh bumper stickers crafted to inspire. But there is a problem. The axes are growing dull. They are swinging harder and actually producing less. These lumberjacks do not need a slogan, they need a tool to sharpen their axe. An even better resolution would be to purchase chainsaws. Mind you that the slogans are not wrong and it is not wrong to have a slogan. But, in the most effective organizations tools always trump slogans.

The easiest way to do one’s work is the way that one has always done it. But that may not be the most effective approach. It is human nature to cling to the status quo and what is familiar when a crisis is not at hand. However, failure to change, adopt, or adapt will ultimately lead to a crisis as the business or organization begins to falter and at that point the needed tools may be out of reach, unaffordable due to eroding resources, or of lesser value because the proverbial hole is too deep to dig out of.

I do not consider myself to be “tech savvy.” I have noticed that some leaders even take pride in ignoring emerging tools and technological developments. That is tragic because leadership and (personal) growth go hand in hand. I am very “tech aware” and continue to try new technologies in an effort to strengthen my leadership. What is new with you? Are you seeking new tools for your work, your leadership, your organization, your ministry? While slogans can motivate, it is the tools that allow you to do your work more effectively. Focus on getting your team the best tools possible. Or else you may go the way of the organization with this slogan: “Our buggy whips can’t be whipped!” Really?

*Adapted from Chapter 7 of John G. Miller’s  Outstanding: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional