Whether you are an entrepreneur growing your business or the CEO of an international multi-continent corporation, your organization’s sustainable future rests squarely on your shoulders. It is leadership not management that sets the course for an organization and it is the leader’s vision, communication skills and his or her ability to empower the workforce that determines whether the organization will enjoy long term growth and sustainable profitability.
Leadership is such an important topic today that more than 80,000 books are published on the subject and more than 1,200 are about the burden of leadership. And, as you might guess, there are almost as many opinions on how to define a leader’s role.
Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric states, “A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization not as it is, but as it should be.” Donald McGannon, former Chairman of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Group said, “Leadership is action, not position.” And according to Napoleon, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” The burden of leadership is heavy, diverse and filled with high expectations.
Do You Have a Leadership Roadmap?
Leadership may have varied definitions and job descriptions but one thing that seems common to all leaders is frustration. Their frustration isn’t aimed at the economy, downsizing or growing the business but at their lack of time to think, to envision the future and create a communications roadmap which implants the visionary heartbeat of the leader into the chest of the workforce. Time, quiet time, creative time is their most needed and least available tool. In fact, it is so unavailable that it is not even thought of as a tool to help solve problems, engage the workforce and create sustainable profits.
Budget time for thinking: All leaders do budget time on their calendar for meetings, phone calls, budget sessions, strategic planning, communicating and engaging their team. However, most do not regularly budget quiet thinking time.
“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got,” said Lee Iacocca, former President and CEO of the Chrysler Corporation.
Are you budgeting quiet time to think and envision the future of your organization? Look at your calendar right now and budget at least two hours of quiet time the third Thursday afternoon of each month. You will need at least two hours because it takes a good part of the first hour to quiet your mind so you can focus. Inform your staff that you are not to be disturbed for those two hours; do not answer phones, text messages or email. Instead sit in absolute silence with only a small tape recorder or tablet and pen nearby to jot down ideas and thoughts. Many thoughts will fly into your mind but keep them under your control – only allow those that help you explore the future direction of your organization. Your quiet time will lead you to places you wouldn’t even dream of going during a normal hectic day.
Budget “visioneering” time: Surround yourself with innovative thinkers from outside your organization. Form a “kitchen cabinet” made up of no more than five highly trustworthy creative people, including yourself. Set aside one weekend once or twice a year to do nothing but think out loud, innovate and create. The entire purpose of this time is “visoneering;” creating the future and interacting with other innovative thinkers. The only restriction for participation is absolute silence and secrecy about session. And the only topic should be generating innovative ideas but not to create a plan to bring them into existence.
Innovative thinkers are always so busy they never have time to get away just to think and interact with other innovators behind closed doors. While the objective is to “visioneer” the future of your organization, others will also get ideas on how to improve upon their own organizations and lives. It will be mutually beneficial to all attendees. The only other person present should be a note-taker that records all ideas and provides each attendee a copy at the end of the weekend.
Take the ideas generated with you to your organization’s leadership and present them as future opportunities. Give them an in-house opportunity to generate additional ideas or determine which are the most feasible for immediate implementation. During your personal monthly quiet time you will create additional new ideas and develop a roadmap to your “visioneered” future.
Budget communication alignment time: Once you have envisioned the future and created the roadmap to reach it, communications within the workplace are crucial. It is critical to align the inner vision for the future with the visible message being portrayed to the workplace. Through your communications, your vision for the future of the organization must reside in the hearts of your workforce to obtain sustainable success.
Budget the same amount of time for creating the communication roadmap as you did for envisioning the future. This communication roadmap should be created through the participation of members from every level of your organization and use all visual, audible and electronic methods available. Touch their hearts so they feel your new vision. If presented properly to your workforce, they will become focused, engaged and play an active role in creating the future because they now own part of that vision.
This process helps control frustration while providing you time to think and envision the future. Whether you are a new leader at the helm or seasoned captain, it takes planned quiet time to begin the innovation process. Create your own “visioneering” roadmap today by budgeting quiet time on your calendar.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.