Within the discipline of the Arizona Management System - our intentional, results-driven approach to performance, sustainable progress and continuous improvement - the role of leadership looks different than it might be viewed in traditional organizational settings.
In addition to all the things typically expected of leaders, AMS also challenges them to develop people’s problem solving abilities at every level of the organization.
The best leaders lead by example. They harness the strengths and skills of staff and enable them to make the most of their abilities to advance their agency mission. They motivate and inspire employees to act, freeing them of fear that blame will surely come to those who surface problems or fail to perform as expected. These need to be seen for what they are: opportunities for improvement.
In our transforming culture, leaders help their employees recognize and accept that it is their individual and collective responsibility to do more good for Arizona, and we do this by understanding customer needs, identifying problems, improving processes and measuring results. When metrics reveal underperformance, we rigorously probe for root causes and work as a team to find viable solutions and adjust processes. This is how Arizona government thinks and does business today.
Leaders don’t expect their employees to come armed with solutions to every problem raised. Instead, leaders champion good ideas and coach and mentor employees to become good problem solvers by modeling disciplined problem solving behavior themselves. They encourage staff to never stop asking why and to move past their fear of failure. Fear creates waste, holds back operational excellence, and most important, stands in our way of doing more good for Arizona.
In a culture where there is no blame, prudent risktaking is rewarded, not punished. Why? Because, when successful, prudent risk-taking produces breakthrough results, and learning when unsuccessful. Most decisions are reversible anyway, and it’s better to make a reversible decision than to make no decision at all. (No decision is a decision, too, and it’s always bad!)
As we progress in our transformation, our leaders must inspire us all to be bold. Our vital mission for Arizona demands it.
To date, the italicized elements shown here have been featured in AMS In Focus.