…If You’re Not Part of the Future, then Get Out of the Way.”
Whenever I see these words to John Cougar Mellencamp’s song, “Peaceful World”, it reminds me that one of the biggest challenges leaders face is painting a clear picture of the intended future of their team, department, business or organization. This is the time of year where many leaders are doing just that, visualizing the intended future produced by strategic plans, budgets and resource allocations now ready to be executed in the upcoming new year. However, these documents aren’t enough to dictate success as they are typically created by spreadsheets and analytics. Visions are realized through emotional engagement by members of an organization so having more than logical plans and budgets to achieve success is necessary.
- What is the story? ~ Before leaders share the picture of the intended future, they have to have a clear idea of the story themselves. As they talk themselves through the narrative, what picture appears in their own mind? What attitudes and behaviors are necessary for the picture to come to life as it is intended? How will the leader model these behaviors to maintain the integrity of the story? The leader must have a clear idea in their own mind of the intended picture or the organization will focus more on the lack of confidence than the narrative itself!
- We think in pictures ~ We hear words, but we think in pictures. It is important the leader’s narrative paint the correct picture of the intended future in the minds of the organization’s members. Included in this discussion are the attitudes and behaviors expected to bring the picture to life in a meaningful way. We can think of this as the culture of the organization as it dictates the operational execution and the alignment of Why, What and How the organization intends to achieve sustainable success. The ability of the organizational leader to paint the picture of the intended future contributes greatly to this alignment process!
- Who is on board? ~ It is amazing to see client organizations positively shift when the new Vision and Culture become part of their daily dialog. When the organization holds themselves accountable to the new attitudes and behaviors, those who actively engage typically thrive. Those who passively or actively do not engage typically opt out of the organization. Those who are then brought on board to replace those who opt out are now aligned from the beginning having been hired with the new attitudes and behaviors in mind!
The end of the year is usually a time of reflection as well as anticipation of new opportunities for a better future. The leader’s ability to craft a clear picture of the intended future of the organization allows each member to filter their decisions through the lens of, “How will this next decision help us become the organization we aspire to be?”
How are you part of your organization’s future?