Many of us can remember “joining the dots” as a child. A maze of simple dots, each numbered but seemingly placed randomly on a page of paper, waiting for someone to join them together so that a picture can come to life!
Somehow, as adults the “game” takes on new complexities as we try to make sense of all the seemingly indiscriminate parts of our lives with the goal of determining the path we want to follow.
Even as leaders, we sometimes find ourselves confused with all of the options and different scenarios we have before us, that it can be challenging to know which one to choose or how to prioritise.
Returning from an intensive leadership programme, I was asked to run a global leadership team with participants from Africa, Asia and the United States. I couldn’t help but be intrigued with how challenging it is for many of us to find time to reflect on life’s connections.
In other words, taking time to consciously evaluate the significance or purpose of those connections, whether they are opportunities, problems, projects or networks, and their relationship to where we are now and how they might be instrumental in shaping our leadership experience for the future.
Here are how some leaders described their experience during the programme:
It’s nice to look back at my journey and identify people and incidents that helped me turn into who I am now.
I saw how the same skills and strengths I have were used and developed in three very different positions.
I managed to clarify my passion and motivations and so have a renewed sense of energy to do what I must. I have refocused myself.
The process has been very helpful and caused me to think about parts of my professional journey that I have not before.
I saw the connection between the personal and the professional.
Some cultures allow us to think informally about these things, but often it’s not a natural process for most of us, and we either don’t prioritise the time to reflect on these things or there is the absence of a structured thought process to guide us. This can get us into some trouble.
This is why Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, encourages leaders to adopt a framework that will help them accelerate their learning and match their strategy to their situation so that they can adapt to the changes they are likely to confront in their current position as well as their next position.
This challenge is just as relevant for the organisations where we provide leadership, as much as it is for our personal leadership journey.
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Nicholas Barnett, the author of an outstanding book called GPS for your Organisation. Ken Blanchard, co-author of the best-selling book The One Minute Manager, wrote the foreword.
As I stated earlier, we often lack a structured thought process to help us understand important connections that lead us to setting clear and concise outcomes. Barnett has produced such a process here. His GPS framework provides the foundation for an organisation to develop its strategic plan, business plan and budget, and actions.
GPS for your Organisation is as profound as it is simple. I have learned over the last 20 years that there is an art in planning. One shouldn’t need a plethora of templates, or a process that is so complicated. Motivation to complete the task would soon wane with those. Strong outcomes are rarely achieved in this scenario.
Whether you are a leader with a large corporation, a small to medium enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation, or a sole-trader, GPS for your Organisation is an excellent place to start.
Having relocated from Colorado to Melbourne and then to Queensland, I soon realised how helpful a GPS is. The ability to identify key landmarks, arterial roads and major highways makes driving much more enjoyable. It should be no different in running a sustainable, high-performing business.
Essentially, Barnett argues that there are five GPS points:
GPS 1: Aspiration
The way you would like your organisation to be regarded by others in five to 10 years.
GPS 2: Core Purpose
Your organisation’s core reason for being and the reason it wants to achieve it.
GPS 3: Core Values
The values that are absolutely essential for your organisation to adopt and continue to uphold if its aspiration is to be achieved and its core purpose is to be fulfilled.
GPS 4: Golden Goal
The single most appropriate inspirational goal for your organisation.
GPS 5: Tagline
The description in a few words (normally five or less) of what is special and unique about your organisation and what it provides.
Joining the dots for your leadership journey or your organisation doesn’t need to be complex. It is important to make time to reflect on how you got to where you are, be able to articulate the direction you want to take, and know what resources you need to get there.
What’s The Bottom-line?
The best lessons in life are those when we’ve actually decided to stop long enough to reflect on what just happened, to see if there are mid-course corrections that need to be made that will benefit us going forward. Organisations are no different. Below are some questions to ask:
· What is one thing I have learned from a previous experience that has the potential to change the way I look at my business? Relationships? Family?
· Do I own a skill or have a strength that I am not currently using, that could prove extremely helpful?
· What is one thing I can do to refocus my efforts to clarify the direction of my business and determine a fresh set of priorities?
Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgement and discretion; they will be life for you.