The Ascending Leader – Enemy 7: Sub-optimizing Your Vision and Plan
Enemy 7: Sub-optimizing Your Vision and Plan
A sport that only registers on the radar for most of us once every four years (during the Summer Olympics) is rowing or sculling. The sport, like many, has all the nuance of fine art and science combined. The crew spends countless hours refining their stroke, paying close attention to the timing, steps, and coordination. Even something as common as the breathing of the team must be thoughtful as they work toward the most powerful and efficient propulsion of the scull.
In many of these races, we see the member who sits stern on the boat. This is the coxswain. While the crew faces backward, the coxswain faces the bow and manages the team’s efforts. The primary concern is for the safety of the crew, but a close second is steering and guiding the boat toward the goal. The crew’s coach, who is responsible for the overall team vision and approach, cannot be on the boat. The coxswain, therefore, becomes the de facto coach and must have a plan of his own that aligns with the vision. Since the coxswain is in the boat, this person has the best feel for the performance of the team and can offer immediate feedback and adjustments that align with the race strategy decided beforehand. The coxswain and the coach must have a respectful and understanding relationship and the same must be true with the coxswain and the crew. Aside from strategy and tactical adjustments, the coxswain also serves as a positive motivator during the race.
Previously, we explored Alienating Your Team and how, whether it is the weight of the new role, the desire to impress their manager, other senior leaders, or coming off as arrogant and dictatorial, too often leaders in a new role alienate the direct reporting team that is now pivotal to their success. Today, we draw this series to a close as we detail Enemy 7 of the “Seven Enemies of Success for Newly Promoted Leaders.”
Enemy #7: Sub-optimizing Your Vision and Plan
In the same way the coxswain must have an individual plan to manage the boat, new leaders must plan for the same. The pressure is on for new leaders to produce immediately. So, why take the time to set a vision and plan? Because if an effective vision and plan are lacking, a leader has missed the opportunity to: a) build credibility in order to effectively lead and achieve results, and b) energize and engage the team in the pursuit of a desired future. On the water, the coxswain is constantly communicating. In the workplace, failure to articulate your Vision and Business Plan with purpose and passion may cause:
- You to be seen as on operational instead of a strategic leader;
- Your team to lack direction, engagement, and inspiration;
- Your Manager to question your ability to contribute and to provide leadership, and
- You to have low credibility with peers and key stakeholders.
Setting an Aligned Vision
In late 2011, Tom was named President of his organization’s Carolinas region and was excited about the opportunities the promotion presented. A 22-year veteran of the company and a proven leader, he wondered how the new “Leader Assimilation Program” (that his Human Resources Business Partner, Regina, encouraged him to pursue) could benefit him. Despite that bit of doubt, and after a sluggish start to the process, one Saturday morning he was determined to give it his earnest attention and sat down at the desk in his home office to do just that.
A Foundation for the Future
To Tom’s surprise and ultimate delight, the tools he reviewed and worked with seemed to shed new and different light on the business he was now leading. While the tools were helpful on the whole, Tom found that the one that was “absolutely most important” for him was the “Aligned Vision Worksheet in “The Ascending Leader.” With the related Business Plan, Tom and his team identified the goals, desired outcomes – including financial, community involvement, diversity, and career growth within his region – and the focused actions needed to begin to realize the vision.
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