Leadership: Are we there yet?

It’s that time of year..family vacation time.  Is your childhood filled with memories of family vacations? You know the kind where everyone loaded into the family station wagon as you embarked on the long journey to wherever your memories would be made that year.  Do you remember the actual road trip?  The sightseeing along the way?  The rest stops at each state’s welcome center?  If you had asked me at ten years old, I would have hated that part of family vacations.  Yet, as an adult, it’s those backseat fights with my brothers and “are we there yet” moments that I cherish.

Charles S. Lauer made the following quote, “Leaders don’t force people to follow—they invite them on a journey.”  The leadership challenge for you this month is to question what journey you are creating for your team.  As a leader, are you creating the purpose, excitement and road map that enables your team to get on board with you, your vision and strategy?  It can seem like a daunting task – especially given the multiple demands on any given day in or out of the office.

Let me encourage you with a few practical tips:

  • Spend some time alone and ensure you know where you are going.  A coffee at Starbucks® or Panera® could be just the appointment you need.  The principle?   If you are unclear, everyone else will be too.
  • Make it a point to include “where we are” moments in the weekly group and individual meetings you hold.  Even when you don’t have all the answers, the forthright conversations are gifts to your team who make up the “truth” in the absence of facts. As the “where we are” messages are received, it enables you to begin sharing the “where we are going” vision.
  • Be intentional with observation.  Is there anyone I interact with on a regular basis who seems disengaged?  Those individuals become my target audience.  This person may be teetering with the decision to really dig in and get involved (buy-in to your journey which equals performance to the facility) or just “show up” and do just enough to get by.   More attention to this person early on can make the difference in real results and success versus that “one person I tolerate” on the team who ultimately robs you of your time and energy down the road.

Life is certainly busy and we are not ten-year-olds climbing into the backseat of dad’s car for the family vacation.  The exciting news is that we have the chance to take our team on a journey every day.  And guess what…you can even take photos along the way as a souvenir!