This is the seventh in our series of articles on leadership faults which began in February 2013.
I could write this article about how important it is for a leader to have a vision. Then again, I could emphasize the essential nature of clear direction. Of course, I shouldn’t forget to look at the mission of the group, and the leader’s agenda. Did I mention goals? Oh yeah, and objectives? How about purpose? Priorities? Big picture? What about the strategic plan?
Now where was I?
As you can see, what I’m trying to illustrate is that leaders have a lot to keep in mind. So much in fact things can get complicated and confusing. Add a few urgent requests, problems, change initiatives, staff shortages, meetings, and you’re doomed. Who could possibly focus in this mess?
And that, I believe, is the state of leadership in many organizations today. Certainly plenty of leaders have come to the conclusion all they can do is what’s right in front of them … their immediate tasks. Tomorrow will have to take care of itself.
And that leads to some negative outcomes.
Why do I think this is so? Because that’s what a large percentage of workers reported in the Fault Lines Leadership Study.
They pointed out one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to lack vision/direction/goals/purpose etc. This issue is in the top-10 of leadership faults, which shows just how common it is. The workforce has taken notice.
Without an eye on the future, leaders can become blinded and don’t know where they are going or why.
The most effective leaders use every directional indicator at their disposal
GPS is a very handy tool. However, I’ve heard some stories recently about people relying entirely on their automobile’s GPS system to guide them to their destination … with disastrous results (if you consider going hours out of their way disastrous). Had they only consulted a map, or gotten some verbal directions as well, much wasted time and frustration could have been saved.
They relied on a singular system – which failed them.
The reason organizations have so many directional indicators (mission, vision, values, goals, objectives, strategy, purpose) is that they all add a valuable layer of information. And, by putting them all together, they help complete the picture – confirming your course of action, and allowing you to focus your daily tasks toward a meaningful destination.
When leaders simply attempt to maintain the status quo their actions lead to stagnation, boredom and dissatisfaction on the part of the team.
But people desperately want to look forward to something.
So focus on explaining exactly where you’re going. Make sure your employees understand to what ends their work requirements are being driven. They’ll have more confidence in you, and more energy in which to accomplish their tasks.
– Jerry Strom
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This article is based on the *’Fault Lines Study: The Biggest Mistakes a Leader Can Make,’ copyright 2013, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, and request our primary findings paper, ‘The Listening Leader,’ which includes ‘Listening Strategies for the Executive Suite,’ at http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_fault-lines.html .