Your Main Thing Can Drive Success

Churchill, in the darkest days of the British Empire, stated simply “We Will Never, Never, Never Give Up” giving hope to hundreds of millions fighting around the world.

Lincoln, as he took his oath of office as president in early 1861, told a divided nation that it was the intention of his administration to “hold, occupy, and possess” Federal property in the states of the seceded South. Those words unified the North and left no doubt as to Lincoln’s aim and policies.

lincolnHistory can teach us useful lessons. So can things we see around town: the sign on the window said it all: “Gone out of business—we forgot what business we were in!”

Most businesses are in the business of taking care of the needs, wants and desires of their customers. It is a sad but true fact that many people employed in businesses don’t see it the same way.

What are those employees concerned about? What business are they in? They are in the business of getting a paycheck. There is nothing wrong with that; it is commendable.

But the two are in conflict with each other. It doesn’t have to be that way. Businesses can get what they want (everyone taking care of customers) and everyone can get focused on doing the same thing, all the while earning a paycheck and building security into the organizations they work for.

This happens when everyone is “singing from the same sheet of music.”

Regardless of who is employed, whatever the position, a central focus needs to be created, communicated and reinforced from highest level to the lowest level in the company.

The “same sheet of music” is known in layman’s terms as The Main Thing.

The Main Thing keeps people from being scattered and defused. It is probably the most underutilized management tool there is. It is the tool of choice of great leaders.

That is because all great leaders simplify.

Having The Main Thing organizes a people around a single principle that brings people together in a common purpose. It is a great unifier.

Why did Churchill and Lincoln create their versions of The Main Thing? Their purpose was to have single, simple focus that everyone could rally around and support.

The responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everyone in the company knows what The Main Thing is and what the expectation is for contributing to it on an individual basis.

It is the responsibility of management to insure that The Main Thing of each individual is aligned at the team level and then to the company.

Employees not buying into The Main Thing are in effect, by their actions and words, conspiring against the company by fighting against it what it stands for and wants to achieve.

These people have no place in the organization; they are part of the past and not part of the present and future.

What business are you in? Now is as good a time as any to re-think what appears to be a simple question. It’s complexity that gets in the way of success and the role of leadership to simplify and communicate The Main Thing.