Leaders set direction, align resources, and motivate action as suggested by the panels in Figure 1. Another way to put it is that a leader develops, holds, nurtures, communicates, and drives to achieve a vision.
As in Figure 2, it helps to think of the leader holding a map, like Harry Potter’s Marauder’s map that is always changing, making sense of it, and navigating the course with those led looking on over the shoulders. The best leaders constantly check with their top team to confirm that they are headed toward the same goals, in the same way, and for the same reasons.
Compusearch (now Unison) was a visionary company with visionary goals. But, as often happens with visionary companies, focus on a long-term strategy to revolutionize a market can mean that near-term execution and operationalization can suffer, creating barriers to growth.
From its founding in 1983, the company used state-of-the-art software design and development to provide solutions that streamlined and automated key steps in government procurement, purchasing, and contract management.
In 2005, the company arrived at a strategic decision point. The company’s team of owner-operators decided to sell the company and retire. The new owner, private equity firm The Carlyle Group (Carlyle), saw immense potential in the company and its pedigree of quality innovation.
But Carlyle also saw that the change in ownership was an ideal time to assess how the organization operated and to upgrade to more effective strategy execution and operations maturity. Maturing operations turned out to be essential to achieving the goal to double revenue and increase margins to realize a 4X return on invested capital within five years.
As suggested by the illustration in Figure 1, a leader:
Sets direction represented in the first panel by the target with a bull’s-eye in the middle.
Aligns resources; that is, the leader collects followers who all look to hit the same target.
Motivates action, as suggested by the radio bars in the lower corners of the third figure, which causes the resources to progress towards the target.
Another way to say it, as summarized in Figure 2, is that a leader develops, holds, nurtures, communicates, and drives to achieve a vision. Like Harry Potter’s Marauder’s map, the leader holds a map that is always changing, making sense of it, and navigating the course accordingly with the team looking over his/her shoulder. Continue reading How to decide what kind of leader to be.→
Many intelliven.com blog posts are based on the slides and lecture notes from a masters class in Organization Development called Organization Analysis and Strategy offered at American University and taught by Peter DiGiammarino. These posts and other material from class, including:
Slide shows, and
are available from Amazon as a softcover workbook or from iTunes as an iBook titledManage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World.
Whether one wants to change personal habits, implement a new information system, improve a business process, get team members to work together, increase a community’s appreciation for diversity, or even to topple a monarchy, taking seven actions driven by seven disarmingly simple truths will individually and collectively help achieve the goal.
Manage to Lead presents a framework to describe and assess any organization. It also provides a structured approach to plan and implement next steps for an organization as it strives for long-term growth and performance.
Readers are invited to select a familiar organization on which to apply the tools and templates introduced throughout the workbook. Exercises in each chapter produce essential elements for the organization’s annual strategic plan and lay the groundwork for implementing that plan.
Readers can package the key elements from Organization Exercises to form a strategic plan that communicates how the organization sees itself and where it is headed. At the end of the year leaders can compare actual results with what was described in the strategic plan to study what happened, why what happened was different than plan, what is to be learned from that, and what to do differently going forward as a result.
Repeat the process over several years and compare actual to planned results year-to-year to see the organization mature, perform, and grow to its full potential.