Leadership Skills (10ofX) – Approach Constructiveness

December, 1999, it is cold, winter winds are spinning the snow…, but it is warm in the office and almost cozy:
“I will need a list of names and addresses of our customers by tomorrow to decide which Christmas souvenirs to whom to be sent”, said the CEO to his manager.
“OK, boss, you’ll have it.”
The next day the following list is presented:

namesaddresscompany
Angel SmithMoscow 10012, Mir str.,126Winter Jcs
Boris TomskiMiami FL1015, Bull run str.,2Spring Ltd
Victor KlayTokyo 1234, Kanban str.,18Auto9 Plc

  It turns out that the
  names, cities, postal
  codes, company legal
  form should be in
  separate columns. On
  the third day it appears that additional columns of information, such as client’s categorization, titles, etc are much helpful.
And on the fourth day, finally, the list is complete.

Let us disregard the mistakes done by the CEO when setting the goal and focus on the approach constructiveness, executed by the manager:

  1. The manager assumed his idea of list elements is good enough.
  2. S/he instantly rushed into action, without exploring any alternatives.
  3. The manager repeated his/her mistakes on the second and on the third day.

Unfortunately, the above described example “first act, later think” is not an isolated managerial practice.

What is action approach constructiveness? And is it possible a common model that helps us in the countless practical variations to be used?

You probably know Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1835-1936) and his verses “Six honest serving-men “:

                              I keep six honest serving-men
                              (They taught me all I knew);
                              Their names are What and Why and When
                              And How and Where and Who.
If the concept is to be simplified, the approach constructiveness is conveyed in the proper answers to six questions above.

What (to do or happened) clarifies the task or the problem.

Why provides information about the assignment purpose or problem causes.

Who assists us in finding the right 

person for the task, the one with the necessary skills and situated as low as possible in the corporate hierarchy.

Where lights the “narrow” points, the likely assignment difficulties.

When determines the time we have and directly affects the type and amount of resources we use.

How challenges us to complete the task with maximum efficiency, effectiveness and efficacy.

Compliance with the action approach constructiveness seems devilishly simple.  Once read – remembered forever.  And if habit wasn’t the first nature of man everything would be perfect.


December 2011, “it is extremely cold…”.  The same manager, from the example above, goes to work, foresightedly carrying a small shovel (20 * 20 cm) – to wipe away his car, buried under 60 cm of snow.  After 40 minutes of hard work of the manager his neighbour shows up.  Evaluating the situation he goes to the next block and borrows a shovel (60 * 60 cm) from a guard. 20 minutes later the neighbour starts his car, while our manager is still digging.

Evidently, knowing the essence of the action approach constructiveness is not enough to beat the habit.   Any new leadership skill requires sustained systematic efforts to make it an unconditional reflex, an integral part of the individual.

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