The Green Bay Packers had struggled for several years to have a decent season, and in 1958 the worst season in their history ended in 1-10-1. Vince Lombardi was hired as the new head coach in early 1959 in an attempt to change the direction of the Packers from a yearly embarrassment to a winner. After watching films of the Packers during the 1958 season, he noted they had been out-scored significantly in the second halves of games by their opponents. Lombardi determined that, “His first coaching commandment was that players had to be in shape. At clinics, he lectured that football was a series of brief, violent confrontations, and being in shape enabled players to hit harder for longer and win more of those battles. The Packers would have that edge from now on, he vowed, telling himself he would establish that if anything in this first season(Eisenberg, p.84-85).” Foundational to the Packers success was being in shape. A company also must be in shape as a starting point if its true potential is to be achieved.
Being in shape for a company means the following:
- The Right Managers are in Place– This is the most important aspect of a company that is in shape. Jonathan Byrnes stated, “What is the most important thing a CEO can do to maximize his or her company’s profitability? The answer is to creatively, systematically, and relentlessly build the capabilities of the company’s middle management team: the vice presidents, directors, and managers. Middle management performance is the single most important element in corporate performance(Byrnes, p.248).”
- The Right People are in the Right Positions– Once the right managers are in place, they then determine that the right people occupy the right positions within the company. I was with a client recently during their staff meeting. The managers had the company’s organization chart on the screen and were going through each of their key people position by position to reaffirm they were the ones needed in order for the business to achieve its targets for the new year.
For a company to achieve its goals, it must have a foundation of being in shape and that means having the right managers, who ensure the right people are in the right positions.
*Eisenberg, John, (2009), That First Season
*Byrnes, Jonathan L. S., (2010), Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink