Life, Leadership and Business

Monday, 27 June 2016

Leaders are Directional

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Leaders are Directional

Alice arrived at a fork in the road. Confused as to which road to select, she asked the Cheshire cat “Which road should I choose?”

The grinning cat asked: “Where do you want to go?”

“Anywhere” replied the bright eye girl.

“Then it really doesn’t matter which road you choose” said the cat.

A Ship’s captain does not have to be at the wheel to steer it. That function can be left in the hands of a capable crew member. The captain is required to use his skills and abilities to chart the course for the ship.

In the same way, steering a team or organisation can be left in the hands of capable managers, but the vision and charting the course for the team / organisation is a leader’s responsibility.

The ability to navigate is central to a leader’s role within the team. A leader must be able to chart the course and ensure that each team member has a share in that vision and committed to its achievement.

Navigation, like any other skill, needs to be developed and refined. Understanding the skills required to navigate successfully will help the leader gain confidence.

Listed are the events that a leader must successfully navigate to ensure success:

       1.       Start Up: The birth and implementation of a vision is a chaotic time in any organisation. Navigating the team through this time is not for fainthearted leaders, who will have to remain calm and clear headed in order to get the wheels rolling. A profound understanding of priorities and processes key to success are the tools required by the leader in this situation. Possessing a good handle on conflict management and strong motivational abilities are also important for a leader that wants to initiate a start up.

2.       Change: Calm seas do not require the navigator’s skills, however, when conditions change, the navigator will play a pivotal role. Listed below are some situations when  leaders navigational abilities will be called upon:

a.       Strategy Change: The leader plays an instrumental role in implementing strategy changes.

b.      Skills Change: Skills change may include upgrading or updating skills as well as gaining new skills to align the team’s abilities with the demands of the vision and strategy.

c.       Product Change: Changing products could result in a whole reshuffle within an organisation. A leaders ability to read the situation and navigate is crucial to successful buy-in and launch of a new product.

3.       Repurposing: As a team grows and develops, so does its mission. As the mission develops, it will become clear that the purpose, and by default – the vision –changes. It is important for a leader to be able to identify these subtle changes in the environment, and to chart the team’s course accordingly.

4.       Personal Development: Growth is the vital life line to any team and organisation. The leader must chart not only his or her own personal development path, but the path of all the key role players within the team.

As the story of Alice and the Cat standing at the crossroads indicate, knowing the final destination is the single greatest condition required for a leader to be able to navigate his team to success. Without a clear understanding of where you are and certainty of where it is you want to go, drifting aimless easily replaces a leaders ability to navigate a team to success.
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