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The Power of Grit

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In November, I had the honor to speak at ACCA’s Service Manager conference in Dayton, OH.  The speech began with a personal anecdote from about 40 years ago regarding a I failed job interview.  The point of the story was to convey that failures are events from which we can learn.  People that bounce back from mistakes and failure are destined to improve and gain valuable experience. 

Two important success words were featured on my PowerPoint slide after the story.  The words were tenacity and perseverance.  During my life, I have found that talent and skill are no match for tenacity and perseverance. Sticking to my long-term goals, even during setbacks and failures, has served me well. 

Tenacity and perseverance can be encapsulated into a single word: grit. People who display grit are courageous with boundless resolve and strength of character.   

Today’s service managers must possess grit to help navigate through tumultuous and rapid change in every facet of business and management. The most important benefit of grit is the positive example it displays for other team members.  Employees become more valuable when they learn to stick with a problem and follow through to a resolution. 

Service managers who lead by example achieve a better balance of people and systems.  System dynamics involves people, processes, and continual improvement. The managers who rely of their grit when establishing big goals are likely to achieve them.  

How do you know what a system’s goal is? Frequently, service managers have different ideas about the system’s goal. In most businesses, the company owner usually considers that the system’s goal is to make money.  The assumption here is that a money-making company keeps people employed, serves the community, and facilitates future growth.   

Service managers might see the goal a little differently. While they acknowledge the need to make money for the company’s ownerservice managers also realize that other things are important too. Things like parts availability, customer satisfaction, a satisfied, secure workforce, and service quality. 

Are the service manager’s priorities goals or are they necessary conditions? 

A goal can be defined as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.  A necessary condition is a circumstance indispensable to some result, or that upon which everything else is contingent.  There is a dependent relationship inherent in these conditions.  So, here is a question: Must a service manager satisfy the necessary conditions in order to attain the goal?   

The correct answer is that the relationship among a goal and a necessary condition is interdependent. 

Therefore, it doesn’t matter what you call a goal and what you call a necessary condition.  This interdependency is constant, no matter what factor a service manager labels as a goal.  So, if a service manager labels customer satisfaction as a goal, then all other related factors become necessary conditions to achieving that goal.  A company cannot have satisfied customers without profitability, parts availability, a satisfied, secure workforce, or service quality, and so on. 

Service managers who simplify complexity, leverage interconnectedness, and measure improved change over time are maximizing their system dynamics potential. 

System dynamics is a combination of personal and systemic factors which enable service managers to be leaders. 

Steve Coscia, CSP

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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