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Ascent Executive Leaders Group

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Wednesday Debrief 9.2.20


Let’s look at these three concepts from yesterday's Checkpoint one at a time:

Visionary Leadership

Vision is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. Vision must inform strategy, which then must be articulated into action. It is only a piece of the puzzle.

Anyone can pitch a dream in a business plan. I have a file full of business plans in various stages of development.


But for the main goal, your big vision that takes priority above all else, what are the deliberate actions that are creating progress toward your vision?

What organizational structure is needed to manage the existing tasks? What changes as your company grows? Your role? The role of others?

How does each staff member’s work contribute to the overall vision? Why is their work important? Why is it valuable? Do they know these things?


So, vision is part of extraordinary leadership, but it is not enough on its own. You have to communicate that vision and then get to the action planning, which can look like the following questions:

How do we get from where we are today, to that vision??

What resources do you have? What resources do you need? Obstacles you can see? Ones you can’t? What’s your current level of market intelligence in your particular niche, and what impact do the current market conditions have on your strategy as it pertains to those big goals?

A vision, like a goal, without a plan is just a wish.


Leadership Development

In the context of leadership development, we come back to a question we’ve asked several times. Where do YOU want to go in your career, in your life?


How does your vision impact the idea of your future self? Future company? Future team? What developmental work across all three areas (self, company, teams) is needed to bring that vision to life?


As a leader, are you aware of the goals of your staff? Are you co-creating a plan toward those objectives? Are you being honest with your team members about where they need to improve, and how they can do it in order to hit those benchmarks?


These questions will change with the circumstances. Sometimes you'll be on a fast growth trajectory, sometimes it has to slow down. Some individuals have a strong appetite for growth, others do not. As a leader you need to set clear, and thoughtfully designed, team and individual development goals.


From a team member's perspective, you need your own personal vision as well. While you may not be in a leadership role at the moment, it is still critical to have your own goals, values, and vision.


Does your vision align with the vision of the company where you work? Will working toward that vision contribute to, or hinder, your own growth and development?

Are you sacrificing your vision for the vision of another? How long are you willing to continue on someone else’s path?



Crisis Leadership

Finally, crisis leadership. At the risk of oversimplification, leading through a crisis is just regular leadership, albeit with a bit more pressure.

You don’t abandon the vision. You don’t abandon the fundamentals. You focus. You communicate. You dial up the leadership competencies so that you can adapt and evolve.

Now, there is a way to mitigate crises before they happen. When times are calm and easy, don't get complacent. Instead, take on a goal that scares you a bit. Challenge yourself and your team to set new internal goals. Build the culture of continuous improvement so that when external change comes along, it is less daunting, less complex.

We fall back to the level of our training! So... how well trained are you to handle crises? What about your team?


Building this resilience (or anti-fragility in the parlance of Nassem Nicholas Taleb) sounds easy, and it can be. But ease only comes through practice.

Under normal circumstances, leaders should encourage and help people move outside of their comfort zone, and help reduce the stress around that. This builds comfort with discomfort and change. It is also the only way we grow.


In a crisis, we’re all outside of our comfort zone due to some externally imposed stimulus. But again, your job as a leader is to reduce the feeling of crisis and stress, and to bring yourself and your team back to a place where issues can be addressed logically and objectively, and contribute toward the ultimate goals for the team, company, or individual.

Extraordinary crisis leadership not only means you endure, but hopefully you begin to see new strengths and competencies emerge in your staff. The crisis actually IMPROVES the individuals, the team, and the company!


The three elements covered today are all critical for the success of your business. You must have a vision. You must be able to develop and grow as a team and as individuals. And you must be able to tackle the big problems with a clear head.


To close, as we’ve discussed, you need to be able to move between these, and other, management and leadership modes and styles. Nothing happens in a vacuum in business. Every action has a consequence. Extraordinary leaders know this, anticipate this, and work to develop the skills of agility and adaptability to create extraordinary companies.



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