Have you ever followed a leader that you wondered if they were messing things up on purpose? I know I am not proud of it, but the question made me think more about it. Leaders don’t wake up and say, “Today, let’s figure out a way to confuse everybody, move the organization in the wrong direction and slowly drive the employees insane.” If they are not sitting around thinking about how they can steer the organization in the wrong direction, that means it occurs unintentionally. We must be vigilant to stay on the right path. Here are five helpful leadership strategies.
- Have a clear destination. Where do you want your association to be in five, 10, 50 or 100 years? My dad used to tell me, “We are lost but we are making great time.” Some associations are doing a lot of activities but not making much progress or being very productive. What is your destination? If you don’t know you should stop and figure it out.
- Don't intuit the destination. When things are not going in the right direction it is usually because of little or no clarity and consistency. The association vision of a preferred future is not something to leave to chance or the last retreat. Leaders should cast vision often, regularly and in a variety of ways to staff and volunteers. When you start hearing your own words reflected back to you, then you know you are saying it enough.
- Take regular pitstops. Organizations and staff need regular times to pause for a checkup. Ask your team, how are things going? Have we gotten off course? What roadblocks are we hitting? What successes have we had? How do we navigate this upcoming stretch of road? What is working well? What do we need to stop doing?
- Don't micromanage the route. There is a difference between the destination and the route. This is a critical lesson for leaders. It is exhausting and frustrating to constantly follow and manage the course of daily work. Find qualified, capable staff, empower them, keep them encouraged and accountable and watch the progress towards the destination.
- Use available navigation. I tried to get my Google Maps app up and running while I was driving the other day and between driving, distraction of connecting to mobile service, “recalculating” and traffic, it was a wreck. I needed to pull over and ask for directions to get some guidance. In the same way, leaders need to be available to provide clarity, purpose, suggestions and encouragement.
If you are feeling lost, pause and review some of these basic reminders to ensure you are not a lost leader.