Leadership and GPS – “Recalculating”

Life be great if we had a “life GPS”. You know, “Darn, I missed that exit” followed by an immediate “recalculating” from a calm voice. It didn’t matter how I failed to follow instructions, the wonderful GPS voice kept me from losing sight of my goal and helped me readjust my tactics with that single goal focus in mind.

Well, as a leader, aren’t you kind of like the GPS for a project, department, company and staff?

Yesterday I found myself in Newark Airport needing to get to Freeport, Maine for a meeting and as luck would have it, my flight was cancelled. After looking at options I determined the safest method to get me to my needed destination was to cancel my flight and drive. I knew the six hours would not be a problem but navigating New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine was going to be the challenge. Thank heavens for GPS.

Think about it. We do a strategic plan or project plan and set targets for three to five years out. If we are doing this right, these targets should be aspirational and transformational otherwise why do any planning at all if you just want business as usual?

Having the plan is one thing, but where does the execution and goal discipline come from? That’s the leaders role. As projects, departments or even companies get complacent, miss-step or get distracted, it’s the leader that must “recalculate” and immediately reset the course, never losing sight of the end goal.

But leading is more than just about projects, departments and companies, it is about people. Being a leader requires us to become the GPS for those that report to us and those we mentor. Its one thing to share the credit, to recognize good performance, to inspire and direct but it is even more important to be that unemotional voice, “recalculating”, when someone strays, gets distracted, makes a mistake or loses sight of the end goal. The beauty of GPS is it reacts instantly to my wrong turn. GPS doesn’t build a file for the next review. GPS gives me the directions but accepts that I will make a mistake or not follow the directions. It empowers me to think for myself and accept the consequences of my mistakes. A good leader can’t micromanage someone into perfection but gives that employee the latitude to make decisions. Sometimes by not following the GPS, we discover new things, new interests but without losing site of the goal. When we try to micromanage good people into doing everything exactly as we would do it, we lose all innovation, creativity and job satisfaction.

Next time a team, project, company or employee makes a mistake, be their GPS – “recalculating” but keep in mind that our goals are not a simple as getting from point A to point B, so if the project, team, company or employee continues to lose site of the goal and requires continuous “recalculating” maybe we need to take more significant steps to attain our goal…

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