The old saying, “Rules are made to be broken and plans are made to be changed”, works as long as you aren’t the person the rules are being broken on or having the plans changed. When a certain structure is put into place, it sets everyone off in the same direction.
Structure, plans…those are good things and provide an opportunity for all who are involved to “speak the same language”. For leaders, having that road map can become crucial to plotting out long-term success. But you soon realize, not everyone shares your same goals and direction.
That’s why leaders learn to plan for the majority but to prepare for the minority. Plans, strategy, structure and vision are meant for the entirety of the organization. They are meant to show purpose and long-term thinking. However, there will always be a group (a friend once told me 7% of an organization will always be negative toward your planning and vision) that can only see things through their eyes. Their agenda is their own and that’s as far as they can see. Your plans may be good, but their plans are better.
So how do leaders work to avoid this trap that can become paralyzing and destructive.
1. Ask for feedback
I once had a friend tell me that the best committee is the one made of “one”. From a speed standpoint, you can certainly go faster with one person making decisions and casting vision, but you may not get s total perspective without feedback from a lot of people. When I have asked for feedback in the past, especially if it is for something large, my goal is to get as many perspectives as possible. I want to hear from people who agree with my direction, can’t stand my direction and then from those who are brand new to the process. That vast difference allows for a lot of great feedback that will enhance the bigs plan and make the implementation much smoother.
2. Close down gaps
Although it happens in different fields, “watching films” mostly takes place in athletics. Coaches and layers spend time before each game preparing for what lies ahead for them. But after games, they also watch tape to see where mistakes were made. Gaps between desired performance and actual performance exist, especially in week one. But as the season goes on, those gaps in performance have to decrease if the team is going to win and be successful. It’s much the same with leadership. Decrease of and get rid of gaps and success will come much smoother.
3. Cancel out the noise and believe in your plan
Everyone knows how to do something better, especially the thing you’re leading. But guess what…you’re the leader and they are not. Thats not hubris or arrogance, but sometimes the truth. Sports talk shows are full of people who never played a sport but have become experts in baseball, football, basketball, etc. They know who should be drafted and who the head coach should play. But just like the people who dress up in their favorite football jerseys on Sundays, they are not going to get to play or coach. but th noise can get loud and it takes a strong leader and leadership to drive through the noise and believe in the plan. If the leader starts to doubt, the those who follow will doubt as well. The leaders job is to cast the big plan and then lead toward the goal.
Being derailed by naysayers and agenda driven people can be as frustrating as anything to a leader. But just like a quarterback that is driving down the field, rarely can you make it with one play. A handoff here, a short throw there and eventually, you get to the goal.
Now GO Lead!
(Leadership 1K is a journal into the mission of leaders and leadership. To receive daily updates through email or RSS feeds, click on the links in the right corner)