Are You Managing the “And”?

Are You Managing the “And”?


Leaders known for their ability to execute are generally masters at leveraging the “and”.

“You think [that] because you understand ‘one’ you must understand ‘two’, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand ‘and.'” – Sufi Teaching

That is, they pay careful attention to the handoffs and boundary-spanning activities that drive results. These execution masters understand the importance of managing the:

  • translation from strategy to tactics to measurement to compensation,
  • communication of expectations/requirements from customers to sales,
  • handoff from sales to manufacturing or operations, and
  • communication from management to associates and to customers.

Skillful leaders enable collaboration

The most successful leaders understand that these handoffs and boundary-spanning activities can be the source of great leverage or the source of disappointment and/or failure.

They also understand that at the heart of these boundary-spanning activities is communication – the kind of communication that helps others understand the “why” and the “how” of the specifics needed that will enable others to execute seamlessly. They understand the importance of clear requests and promises, and the difference between expectations and agreements.

Furthermore, rather than just counting on their own communication ability, they instead build strong, often redundant, cross-functional communication programs and processes to make certain everyone is leveraging the “and” to achieve their goals.

So the next time you are frustrated by poor results, take a minute to consider how the clarity, form, and amount of communication – both yours and theirs – may be impacting your team’s ability to execute. Improving the communication between and among teams or groups may be your key to achieving even better results.

Photo courtesy of Doblin/Monitor.

Sallie Sherman is the CEO of S4 Consulting. She is an expert in helping organizational leaders transform the way they approach critical B2B relationships and implement the complex changes needed to manage those relationships as strategic assets. Sallie has written two books.