Don’t Forget the Fundamentals; Don’t Neglect Them – Even as We seek New Insights and Strategies

There’s something about fundamentals that basketball players love.
Phil Jackson — Eleven Rings:  The Soul of Success

Worth reading for every leader!
Worth reading for every leader!

You can’t skip fundamentals if you want to be the best.  The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out…
You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them.  The fundamentals will never change.
Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.
Michael Jordan — I Can’t Accept Not Trying:  Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence


Here is one paragraph from one of the excellent interviews Bob Morris conducts with authors. (Yes, I read his post today, and then went back and re-read the first interview with this author). Read this carefully:

Emmanuel Gobillot
Emmanuel Gobillot

…the fundamentals of management. When I started my career much of the education we received was classic management training. How do you set objectives? How do you hold a performance conversation? How do you motivate people etc. Whilst many of these topics are addressed, they are addressed as topics without enough time being spent on the practice of running a business. I am still astonished at how little even some senior leaders know about the fundamentals of management. I also would put myself in the category of people responsible for that failure as so much of our time has been devoted to the topic of leadership that we have forgotten about day-to-day management.
Emmanuel Gobillot: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris 

I read this, and I thought of a conversation with an very knowledgeable Organizational Development specialist who attends our Frist Friday Book Synopsis. He likes what we do, and is practically always present, but once told me something close to this: “you know, if people had just paid attention when they were in school, they would already know all of this.”

So, two nice reminders. Don’t forget the fundaments. And, don’t forget what you learned.

I recently tracked down the “official” definition of a newly trendy business word. I decided (actually, I already knew) that it wasn’t a new concept; someone just gave it a new name, and it is now a mini-industry.

And, I think of books on communication I read. They have nice, trendy-sounding, catchy titles, but if you read carefully, the fundaments are in these books: be sure to speak on something that your audience needs; grab their attention; be well-organized; get to the point. Tell stories – tell good stories, and tell them very well!!! And learn to master each element of speech delivery (good voice; no monotone; great eyeball-to-eyeball contact; the right kind of body movement with plenty of gestures; don’t use the same gesture over and over again). You know – the basics!; the fundamentals.

Let’s look at three fundamentals from that paragraph above

How do you set objectives?
How do you hold a performance conversation?
How do you motivate people?

Pretty basic questions. Have you mastered them? Do you remember to practice them as you should?

The list of fundamentals is long, in each part of each arena. But we keep reading books – older classics, and newer, maybe more “trendy” books — to remind us of what we may have forgotten, or at least have been neglecting, even as we learn some new insights that help move us forward.


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