Whether you are a leader of people, a leader of change, or just leading yourself through a period of personal change, there is one ability that will most likely underpin your success as much, if not more than, most others. It also happens to compliment the attributes of successful change leaders that I spoke about last time.
In a way it goes without saying; when you lead people, change or yourself there are many moments you will encounter that leave you questioning what it is you are doing, why you are doing it and should you keep doing it? In fact sometimes it is just plain difficult and it may seem as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel. These are the times when it's important to be absolutely clear on the reason why you are engaging in an activity. This will become your true north. It is your reason for doing and being. Irrespective of whether it is leading others, change or yourself, being clear on 'why' is especially important in two key areas; Personally and with regards to the activity you are engaging in.
Personally; what is your own personal reason for leading this project, team or yourself through this process of change. Things will get tough. In fact it's rare that everything goes smoothly in a period of change! So being clear about 'why' you are doing what you are doing is critical, because some days, or even weeks, this may be the only incentive for continuing! Importantly, when you are clear on this, you will find it easier to connect with, and to inspire, other people on a more personal level in relation to your leadership or the change event. Being clear personally opens the door to engaging leadership. You can think of this component as your internal compass...and if you have ever been hiking in a group, you will notice that people are usually most interested in the person with the compass...and they follow the lead of the person with the compass.
The Activity; what is the reason for the activity you are leading? In his book, Structure and Dynamics of Organisations and Groups, Eric Berne talks about the need for being clear about the primary task of an activity so that you can in turn be clear about the type and nature of roles required to achieve the task. This then means that you can be clearer about how to structure other aspects such as communication and process requirements. Over the last 10 years it has become my practice to continually ask myself, and not just the groups I work with, 'what is the reason for doing this...the primary task'. If the above point is considered your compass, then being clear on the primary task is your map. You may be motivated personally, and have your internal compass aligned as described above; but without the map you can still be going around in circles and never reach what you set out to achieve. I once worked with a leadership group who were experiencing less than optimal results; and so I asked a simple question...'what is the primary task of this team'. I received six different responses from a team of eight people. Each of the team members were motivated...but for most of them the map was different. Once they had a shared map, there was never any doubt of the success that they went on to achieve.
These are two simple measures that can underpin your personal success and the success of your activity. They are easy to keep top of mind; and if they aren't, change that today. I think you know why.
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