I just a few weeks, I will have the privilege to move into a significant leadership role in an organization very close to my heart. I will talk more about the “big deal” in future essays (post closing) but for now I just want to express how honored I am to have the chance to have an impact and how seriously and intensely I am diving into the work ahead!
Through the process of due diligence I have been reacquainting myself with the business, digging into a number of key issues/opportunities and working to build a path forward that will be productive, thoughtful, category leading and filled with profitable growth (I know, no small feat!!) This drive to reinvigorate profitable growth and industry leadership is at the core of my focus and as I dive into the work, I keep finding myself “balancing” four key focus points or leadership principles that I want to cover today:
· Strategic Vision
· High Expectations
These four ideas are central for leaders in any role in any organization. What is unique for me is the dynamic that I am working to balance all four simultaneously in a moving and dynamic business situation and organization. The image I keep thinking about is that of a table, with four legs that can expand and retract dramatically. While I have no expectations for a calm/peaceful steady state “always perfectly flat and level” table, I do realize that I need to keep all four elements (legs) active and moving at all times, and that the dynamic of a “balanced” and productive leadership platform is a highly challenging and dynamic exercise! Lets take a second with each of these four “principles”
· Strategic Vision
§ The strategic vision provides an overview of where you want to be at in a specific time in the future. It helps provide an overarching principle(s) for all the detail contained in later sections. ... The strategic vision should present the ideal, but achievable, outcome.
Leaders must set the course ahead for the organization to understand and for all to clearly know “where are we going??” and “what does winning look like??” After having been away from the business for more than four years, and from seeing the mostly negative impact that the previous owners have had on the business, the road ahead is clear … a path of innovation, growth and exceptional execution re-focused on the foundational principles of the business and the brand.
§ The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
It is so tempting to try to fix or change EVERYTHING at once… to get AA the parts humming in perfect order literally in the first few weeks or months post closing on the business…. a innocent and naïve approach for sure! I think back to two well read essays from this blog, “Aunt Lorraine’s Law” and “ Do Fewer Thing Better” both of which were MY admonishments to leaders to exercise patience, especially in the face of big challenges (the like of which I am facing now.) Now is a key moment when I need to listen to my own advice, in balance with these other principles.
· High Expectations
§ The word expectation comes from the Latin word expectation, meaning, "an awaiting." If you have great expectations, you think something good will come your way, but if keep your expectations low, you won't risk being disappointed.
Regardless of a sense of “patience,” leaders MUST set, model and expect high levels of performance from themselves and their teams. Even in the most challenging moments (maybe most important in those tough moments) keeping your expectations high for the performance results of the next week/month/quarter/etc. is vital for successful leaders.
I am a big believer that leaders need to be appreciative and “humbled” by the role they play. The chance to lead organizations and teams of individuals is no small thing and we, as leaders need to be deeply appreciative of our roles. Too many models of bombastic/arrogant/prideful political and business leaders surround us today, and I for one think back to the most impactful leaders in my 30+-year business career and I assure you they were not that kind. The individuals that left the biggest mark on me were the ones who were great teachers, ones that know how to balance these four principles effortlessly (at least it seemed so) and who took the time to work with me and to build my skills and experiences in the roles I had AND for future opportunities.
I wanted to take a moment this week to share these four ideas and how I am working to find a balance for all of them as I dive into the road ahead on my end. As leaders I encourage you to keep all four ideas active in your minds and realize that there is no “steady state”, “perfectly level” leadership situation or moment! You will need to tradeoff one versus the other, and keep balancing or re-balancing these four leadership attributes to handle and succeed in the moment at hand… good luck with your balancing efforts!