Life would 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 beautiful 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 canceled. 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 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 want business as usual?
Having the plan is one thing, but from where does the execution and goal discipline come? That’s the leader’s 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. It’s one thing to share the credit, to recognize good performance, to inspire and direct. Still, 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 take the consequences of my mistakes. A good leader can’t micromanage someone to perfection but gives that employee the latitude to make decisions. Sometimes, by not following the GPS, we discover new things and interests without losing sight of the goal. When we 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” helps them keep in mind that our goals are not a simple as getting from point A to point B. If the project, team, company, or employee continues to lose sight of the goal and requires continuous “recalculating,” maybe we need to take more significant steps to attain our goal…