The Leadership Playbook: On Managerial Will

Compensation is one way to drive behavior and produce the outcome you need, as limited as it may be by itself. Having plans and metrics can also guide behaviors and help produce the outcomes you need. These levers, as much as we like to employ them, are not as powerful as the underutilized method for getting things done: managerial will.

Managerial will is a combination of leadership and accountability.

Be the Leader Your Team Needs

Managerial will is the leadership to tell your people that you are going to take the hill, and then driving the action to actually take the hill. Regardless of compensation. Regardless of plans and metrics. You achieve the goal through your personal leadership.

You establish the goal, and you employ all your resources, including time, energy, money, and people in achieving that goal. Come hell or high water.

Inspect and Adjust

The second part of managerial will is holding people accountable for their role in achieving the goal. You ask them about their progress. And then you ask them again. When they’re struggling, you help remove the obstacles to their performance. You coach them. You help them with whatever will enable them to do their part in producing the results you need them to produce as part of the larger goal.

Without the leadership component to managerial will, compensation and other levers rarely produce the results desired. If you had to choose between the two, managerial will is the safer bet—especially with a great actualized leader.

Without the accountability component, you will achieve results that are far less than what you are capable of producing.

This resistance to managerial will comes from the great—and real—fear that people will be hurt when managerial will is exercised by an unenlightened dominator who makes poor leadership choices. But this too stems from a lack of managerial will, namely that of the manager’s leader in allowing bad behavior.

Managerial will, when exercised by a thoughtful, enlightened, caring leader is a force multiplier that allows their team to outproduce larger, better-resourced competitors who lack this discipline.

Filed under: Leadership, The Leadership Playbook

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