Tag Archives: Vision

How Flexible are You?

Flexible business woman talk by phone

Leaders need some flexibility so they can reach their goals.  Whether you are leading teams or projects you will have a vision of the results, a plan to get there and the ability to adjust to circumstances that arise along the way.  The secret to being successful is having the right amount of flexibility.  There is a spectrum from very rigid to very pliant and we all fall along it in different places on each aspect of our lives.

A week ago my college aged son had shoulder surgery and he cannot use his left arm at all for the near future.  Many people would sit around, feeling sorry and do nothing because of the limitations.  He takes a different approach to it, he is very careful of his injured should but he looks at each situation in terms of what can he do not what can’t he do.  This is a great mindset for striking the right balance in flexibility.

As leaders there are things we must hold firm to like our vision, our passion and our integrity.  However, we need to be adaptable to new opportunities, new ways to reach our goals, and new resources that can help us move forward.  When we create a plan there must be room for change and adjustments.  Too often a leader builds a plan and will not deviate from it even when it is doomed to fail.  This is blind allegiance and there is no room for that in a leader’s world.

When moving forward towards a dream or vision leaders must be willing to listen and change based on the input of their team.  Others will see opportunities or come up with ideas that will move us forward quicker or more efficiently.  Allowing that change to take place is critical.  What a leader must avoid is giving up all control over the vision.  If the leader becomes too pliant then the group can pull the team in a new and different direction which may not meet the original vision.  Turning everything over without staying in control of the vision can lead to disaster.

Flexibility allows you to accommodate the needs of your team and adjust for obstacles or challenges.  When you are able to adapt your plan to the needs of the team, the team will buy into it because they now have a piece of it.  Obstacles and challenges require a change in approach where flexibility will lead to more innovative solutions.  Flexibility in methods builds buy-in and creates an environment conducive to innovation.

Here are some questions to ask to maintain your flexibility balance:

  • Is this idea/opportunity true to my vision for the results?
  • Could this be a better way to get things done?
  • Will this help us reach our goals while allowing the team to personalize their efforts?
  • Can this meet the goals of the vision as well as meet the needs of the team?
  • What would happen if this adjustment is made?
  • How can we work around this obstacle or challenge?
  • Will this make the end results even better?

SlinkyThink of a slinky, like the one pictured here.  They hold their over all shape yet to move forward they bend, twist and adjust to get to the destination.  As a leader that kind of flexibility will help you succeed.  Hold true to your vision, passion and integrity while adapting to the needs and ideas of those on your team.  Stretch yourself to learn more, do more and go places you never thought possible.

How do you work on your flexibility?  Share your best practices in the comments below.  I would love to learn new techniques.


Filed under Leadership, Project Management

What is Your Mission? Leadership and Mission

Success2What is you mission?  Do you know what is your purpose or calling?  Have you taken the time to determine what you are called to do and how you will measure your success?  As humans we have the opportunity to determine what we will do and how we will do it.  We can choose to live a life with a purpose, to pursue a mission.  If you are a leader knowing your mission is critical to the success of your team.  A vision alone will not create success for you or your team.

When you share your vision as a leader you are creating a picture of success for your team.  By taking it one step further and sharing a mission statement you give your team a framework that defines how they will help create that success.  The mission is task oriented and so is action oriented.  This gives your team the start of a road map to reach success.  The mission statement becomes a compass and helps determine direction for your activities and those of your team.

A mission statement clearly identifies your purpose and identifies measures of success.  It provides a simple and easy message of the primary objective for you and your team.  A well done mission statement sets the stage for setting goals throughout an organization.  Aligning individual, department, and corporate goals with the mission allows everyone to understand how they connect to the bigger picture of what is to be done.  That alignment helps with engagement because people know how they are contributing to the overall mission.

Missions are translated a series of tasks or activities to reach the goal specified in the mission statement.  This translation helps break down the mission into actionable steps people can take to reach the goal.  The goal is often tied to the vision which defines the purpose in terms of values.  The vision is often a statement of the experience people will have with an organization and may be directed to external customers or shareholders.  The mission defines how the internal team will bring the vision to life.

So as a leader you need to create a vision of the future for your team and to help guide them on their journey to success you need to give them a mission as well.  The mission statement can become the rallying point for team efforts which creates momentum and success.  Share your vision and mission often with your team so they know where they are going and how they will get there.   Keep your mission fresh and consistent with your current situation.  Make changes if needed to adapt to new opportunities.

As 2014 approaches take time to review your personal mission and your organization’s mission.  Is your purpose clearly defined and aligned with your current circumstances?  Start planning for how you will accomplish this mission in 2014 so you can hit the ground running as the new year begins.

To explore more about Leadership and Mission join me as I co-host the Lead With Giants TweetChat with Dan Forbes on Monday December 16th at 7:00 pm (#leadwithgiants).  We would love have you share your ideas and thoughts around this topic.



Filed under Leadership, Mission

Are You Moving Forward?

GoThis is a time of the year when many of us look back on what we accomplished during the year.  Did we achieve our New Year resolutions?  Did we move closer to our big life goals?  There are a wide variety of similar questions we ask ourselves whenever we reflect on our success.  It’s important to reflect on our achievements and understand what we accomplished.  However, it’s even more important to look at what our vision and mission really are and how do we get there.  This is a great time of the year to identify how we can move forward in our life.  We then set the stage for even greater achievement after the first of the year.

To achieve anything we have to first envision what it is we want.  These may come in the form of written goals, a clear vision and/or mission statement, a vision board or just a deep sense of what we are called to do.  Being clear on the desired endpoint is a critical step in reaching it.  How do you know what to do if you aren’t clear on where you are going?  This clarity takes time to develop; you must get in touch with your skills, your passion and who you want to be in the world.  Establishing that vision of your future world creates a mindset that allows you to start moving towards it with purpose and determination.

Once you know where you are going it’s time to get moving forward.  It can be hard to create a vision for the future but it’s even harder to take action to get there.  Dreaming is so much easier than getting down into the trenches and working hard to reach your goal.  Part of the reason taking action is so hard is because we of goals think in terms of grand accomplishments or big projects.  Instead take the time to identify the first simple steps you need to take to reach your goal.  This is about what can you do first, then what would come second, then what’s third.  Start with the first things to do and the steps required after that will become clear.

You really don’t need a plan of action that details every single thing you must do to reach your goal.  In fact, if you spend time creating that detailed of a plan you are closing the door on flexibility and new opportunities.  As well, you set yourself up for failure.  If you have a highly detailed plan and a detour comes up that is the right thing for you to do it creates a conflict – do I go with my plan or the detour?  Many then get stuck or start second guessing their decision.  This stops them from moving forward and they end up not reaching their goals.

So look at your goals and ask yourself these questions to get moving forward today:

  • What can I do today to move towards my goal?
  • How can I take advantage of the resources I have at hand to help reach my goal?
  • Who could help me move forward today?
  • Where can I learn a needed skill or gain a resource I need today?
  • Why am I procrastinating on working towards my goals?
  • If I take no action today when will I take that next step?

Moving forward towards your dreams and your goals is a series of small steps that ultimately get you where you want to go.  You just have to take the first one to start moving forward.   As you move forward your goals will get closer to you and you will find the next steps to take in front of you.

What step will you take today?

If you are stuck and would like help figuring out how to start moving forward contact me for a Jump-Start Coaching Session.


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Filed under Personal Development

Quote for Sept 4th

chairs between palm trees at the Virgin Island's beach“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” ~ Joel A. Barker

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Leadership Quote for Feb 7th

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

Theodore Hesburgh

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Teamwork Lessons from Geese

Canada Geese in FlightAs winter sets in my area has seen an increase in the number of Canadian Geese.  Whenever I see flocks of these birds I’m reminded of the lessons in teamwork that they can teach all of us.  Here are five great teamwork principles we can learn from the migrating geese.

  1. Work together.  When geese fly in the V formation they increase their range by 70%.  This is due to the updraft that each bird creates for the one behind it.  When we all move in the same direction and work in concert we can do more than we can individually.
  2. Share the hard tasks.  When the first bird tires it moves to the back and another one takes the point position.  If we share the responsibilities of the hard tasks that drain our energies we can accomplish more as a team.  As well, sharing the lead will help develop leadership skills in everyone on the team.
  3. Encourage each other.  As they are flying geese honk to encourage the first bird.  This helps them maintain their pace.  By offering encouraging words to our team mates we can help keep their energy up and sustain the progress the team is making.
  4. Stick together.  If a bird drops out of the formation two other geese go with it to care and protect it.  This means that no one goose is ever alone.  When things get tough at work, if we offer to standby our team mate they will get back on track quicker and when you need help they will be there for you. 
  5. Going alone is harder.  When one bird drops out of formation it faces increase wind resistance which drains it’s energy and makes it harder to get to the destination.  It quickly returns to the formation so it regains the benefits of the birds around it.

I’ve always been fascinated by these birds and the distances they cover each year during their migration.  As I reflect on the things they do naturally that make this possible it really makes me wonder why people make work so much harder by avoiding teamwork.  Each year the Canadian Geese serve as a reminder of the power of working together towards a shared vision.

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Filed under Team Building

Quote for Dec 4th

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Warren Bennis

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A Leadership Parable

This is an interesting leadership parable about the importance of being aware of what you cannot see and valuing different perspectives.  I’ve come across it in several places.  Hope you enjoy it and find it as thought provoking as I did.

The Wisdom of the Mountain

In ancient China, on top of Mount Ping, stood a temple where Hwan, the enlightened one, dwelled. Of his many disciples, we know only Lao-Li. For more than 20-years, Lao-Li studied and meditated under the great master. Although Lao-Li was one of the brightest and most determined disciples, he had yet to reach enlightenment. The wisdom of leadership was not his.

Lao-Li struggled with his lot for days, nights, months, even years. And then one day, the sight of a falling cherry blossom spoke to his heart. “I can no longer fight my destiny” he reflected. “Like the cherry blossom, I must gracefully resign myself to my ignorance.” At that moment, after more than 20-years of study, Lao-Li decided to climb down the mountain and give up his hope of enlightenment.

Lao-Li searched for Hwan to inform him of his decision. He found the master sitting before a white wall, deep in meditation. Reverently, Lao-Li approached Hwan. “Excuse me enlightened one,” he said. But, before Loa-Li could continue the master spoke. “Tomorrow I will join you on your journey down the mountain” he said. And Lao-Li left to pack his belongings.

The next morning, before the descent, the master looked out into the vastness that surrounded the mountain peak where they stood. “Tell me Lao-Li,” he said, “What is it that you see?”

“Master, I see the sun beginning to wake just below the horizon. I see hills and mountains that go on for miles. In the valley I see an old town and a lake.” Hwan listened to Lao-Li’s response. He smiled and then took the first steps to start the descent.

Hour after hour, as the sun rose and crossed the sky, they walked. As they approached the foot of the mountain, Hwan again asked Lao-Li to tell him what he saw.

“Great wise one, in the distance I see roosters running round the barns, cows asleep in the flowering meadows, old people resting and children playing in a brook.” The master stayed silent and walked to a large tree where he sat at the trunk.

“What did you learn today Loa-Li?”, he asked. Silence was Lao-Li’s response. At last Hwan continued – “The road to leadership is like the journey down the mountain.” It comes only to those who realize that what one sees at the top of the mountain is not what one sees at the bottom. Without this wisdom, we close our minds to all that we cannot view from our position and as a consequence limit our capacity to grow and improve. But with wisdom there comes an awakening. We recognize that alone one sees only so much – which, in truth is not much at all. This is the wisdom that opens our minds to improvement, knocks down prejudices and teaches us to respect what at first we cannot view. Never forget this last lesson Lao-Li – What you cannot see can be seen from a different part of the mountain.”

When the master stopped speaking, Lao-Li looked out at the horizon and as the sun set before him it seemed to rise in his heart.  Lao-LI turned to the master but the great on was gone.

Do you look beyond your horizons to see what others see?


Filed under Leadership

Quote for Nov 15th

Coaching helps you take stock of where you are now in all aspects of your life, and how that compares to where you would like to be.
Elaine MacDonald

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Funneling the Vision throughout an Organization

Recently I’ve been discussing the challenges their teams are facing in the upcoming year and what training their team needs to meet these challenges with several leaders in one organization.  One concern that has come up several times is how to get the leader’s vision communicated and implemented down to the supervisors’ level.  In this organization the first line supervisors do not see the head of their organization other than in monthly update videos.  There is little or no personal contact as the team is spread out over North America.  This has me thinking about how you ensure the vision is accurate and applied throughout an organization, particularly one that is not all co-located.

First the vision must be clear and concrete enough for people to be able to describe it.  This means that it must address the issue of “what’s in it for me” at all levels of the organization.  The overall vision may not contain this in its high level statement, however, if not it must be able to be broken down so people understand how they fit in.

Next each level of the organization must understand how the vision will impact their immediate working environment.  Will they have to do new things, learn new skills, use new tools/technology or work with new vendors and/or customers?  How will this change the things they are doing each day?  Breaking it down so that each person in the organization understands their role and the expectations for their contribution is a key to successful implementation of the vision.

Now the leadership team needs to look at what are the skill gaps within the organization.  Are there expectations that cannot be met because the individuals do not have the skills required?  If there new tools or technology being implemented, do people know how to use them?  Do the leaders and managers know how to manage change?  Take the time to really understand if there are gaps in the skill sets of the team to ensure the vision can be implemented effectively.  Changing things without providing the tools and skills will lead to failure.

Finally, as the new vision is rolled out and implemented get feedback on what is working and what needs improvement.  When an organization is spread out it’s easy to think all is well if there are no complaints.  Unfortunately, people may be struggling with the concepts, tools or lack of skills at the lowest levels.  As a leader it is critical to seek information about how things are going.  Be sure to ask and then really listen to what is being said.  Ask questions to gain deep understanding of the concerns or problems.  When getting the feedback, think of yourself as a sponge – absorb what is said without comment or defensive reaction.  Once you have the information you can reply or adjust what you are doing to address these issues.

So as you are sharing the vision for your organization, be clear, break it down, close any gaps and get feedback.  If you do these four things, consistently and continually, you will be successful in creating a compelling vision at all levels and it will be effectively implemented.

What have you done to get the vision to all levels of your organization?

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Filed under Change Management, Leadership