High-impact people provide the fuel to keep your business on the cutting edge and operating at peak capacity. And the smaller your operation, the more critical each person becomes. "You want to be a high-impact player yourself, and you definitely want to hire high-impact players, because they're the ones who make a difference," says Joe M. Powell, executive editor of "The Management Masters Survey" (Worthing Brighton Press). In conducting the survey between 1997 and 1999, Powell worked with 30 of the nation's leading business graduate schools to identify six critical performance characteristics of high-impact players. How do you and your managers measure up?
1. Establish knowledge and learning networks. High-impact people develop and participate in a wide range of knowledge networks, Powell says. "You can't wait until you need to know something to establish your learning network. You need to do it right now, so that the minute a crisis comes up, you know who to call." Build a network of knowledgeable people and resources by participating in professional associations and taking advantage of educational and business opportunities.
2. Effectively analyze and package complex information. Few business issues are simple. High-impact people can attack a complex situation, identify the basic structure and present a coherent resolution strategy.
3. Be flexible and be able to act fast. It's not enough to make the right call-you've got to do it before your competitors do, and be prepared to spin when market conditions change. Powell says traditional management and leadership wisdom hasn't been repealed: It's been "slammed into hyperdrive."
4. Prepare to make decisions in conditions of extreme ambiguity. Clearly marked paths are rare, Powell notes. You will seldom feel you have all the data, advice and time you need to make the right decision, but make one anyway. Bold thinking means taking risks, using your intuition and bucking tradition when you believe it's best.
5. Develop the courage to think boldly. Bold thinking isn't about being invariably right, so you should give yourself permission to be wrong. If you need to always be correct, Powell says, you won't be free to make intuitive vaults.
6. Acquire effective professional relationships quickly. High-impact people understand human motivation and are able to listen actively to find out what others want. "You have to learn to relate to others in a hurry these days," Powell says. "You don't have years to get to know your customers, suppliers and employees as we did in the old days."
Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 14 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.