Can you imagine jumping in your car and starting a family vacation trip and not know where you are going? With gas prices now close to $3 a gallon the trip will get expensive, real quick. Also besides draining your pocketbook, your family will quickly become frustrated as you drive around aimlessly looking for a destination.
The same frustration occurs in followers as a leader attempts to take an organization to a place without a proper plan and without communicating the intended destination. The frustration builds and the cost to the organization is the followers lose confidence in the leader (“he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing”) and stop participating for fear of the destination (“I don’t know where he is going with this, but I’m not going to stick around to find out”).
Leaders who want to take the organization in a new direction cannot afford to just rally the troops and head out with the attitude “let’s see where this takes us.”
First, you will have to work really hard on the “rally” part because followers will want to know if the trip will be worth the time, effort and sacrifice. And if you do somehow get some people to follow (probably out of curiosity), it won’t take much for them to abandon ship when the water starts to get choppy.
All of this will be avoided if you, as the leader, get your act together and ask yourself some questions:
- Where do I want to go and is this consistent with the organization’s goals? Your personal vision for the organization cannot be just your personal vision; it has to be a collective vision aligning with the goals everyone has agreed to.
- What is my plan and is it understandable? Have you explained in clear, concise language your vision and the logical steps to reach it?
- Have I communicated the plan effectively and allowed time for acceptance? Did you announce the plan; listen to comments, arguments, and suggestions; revise the plan; listen to comments, arguments and suggestions; revise the plan; (you get the message)
- Have you been honest to yourself and your followers by explaining the discipline and hard work necessary to carry out the plan?
- Are you confident enough to “pull the trigger” and head into action?
Navigating a vacation trip or being a leader-navigator in your organization will be a disaster if you do not have a well, thought-out plan. Don’t be like the navigator in the cartoon relying on celestial guidance alone to show you the way. Build a plan first, and then pray!