I want you to go ahead and picture the following scene – it’s one that I have experienced on numerous occasions:
I am waiting in a leader’s office, eager to kick off a coaching session. The leader rushes in mumbling something along the lines of, “I wish they would just understand what I want.” I turn to respond, and quickly realise that the comment isn’t meant for discussion, rather it’s a declaration of frustration.
The leader composes themself, grabs a notepad, sits down and greets me with a half smile/half exhalation, which signals that, glad to see me or not, they have a million other things vying for their attention.
I pause before tentatively asking my opening question, which refers to the statement they made as they entered the office. To my relief, they seem grateful and eager to discuss it, saying, “I’m constantly amazed that my team just don’t seem to understand what I require them to do. From a technical point of view, they are all exceptional practitioners. They just don’t seem to get me.”
I respond by asking, “So, what do you want them to get?”
I’m met with stunned silence.
I have lost count of the number of times a leader has been unable to define what their leadership vision is.
A leader’s vision is twofold – namely it clarifies the organisation’s goals, but it also reveals the groundwork the business is required to achieve on a day-to-day basis.
With this in mind, every leader needs to ask themselves some very important questions:
1. What sort of a leader do I need to be in order to support this organisation on its journey to high performance?
It is essential the leader respond to the question in detail. For instance, if being a great communicator is part of a leader’s answer to this question, they need to delineate what sort of a communicator they are referring to. Do they want to be a great public speaker, or do they want to develop skills in carrying out one-on-one exchanges?
Detail is the key here, as it allows the leader to set boundaries for decision-making, and focus on the activities that are essential for the actualisation of their vision.
2. Does my vision align with the organisation’s vision?
This is a critical question, and one that all leaders need to spend significant time pondering. On numerous occasions I have coached very vexed leaders whose frustration has stemmed from a disparity between their style of leadership and the style of leadership required of the organisation they represent. This does not mean that they are poor leaders; rather, that the type of leader they are didn’t align with the values and direction of the business.
Pondering these questions and being totally honest with regards to the answers, is an imperative step for any leader who wants to be true to their organisation and, more importantly, true to themselves.