Can You See the Destination?

buy-in deliberate leadership employee engagement engagement leadership mission strategic leadership strategic leadership examples strategic management strategic management and leadership strategy vision Mar 02, 2022
Deliberate Leadership

Christopher Columbus supposedly said “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” I say supposedly because variations of that quote seem to be attributed to at least half a dozen folks, not the least of whom were Winston Churchill and William Faulkner. Regardless of where or how the idea originated, I believe there’s something we need to consider for it to be at all relevant… I don’t think for a minute that any of them were suggesting losing sight of the shore we currently see just for the sake of staring at nothing but water! Columbus certainly didn’t do that, he had a very specific destination in mind…

Once we’ve charted the course we need our team to follow, identified the strategic leadership examples we need to provide for our team along the way, and we’re deliberate in how we lead with intentional clarity as to how each individual task matters, we should be well on our way to discovering our own new oceans! But what if a new ocean isn’t what we’re really hoping to discover?

I suppose finding a new body of water would be great if we want to catch fish! Otherwise, we may need to be a bit more specific about where our course is taking us. In just about every case I can think of, organizations set metrics for revenue growth, profitability, debt reduction, productivity, and so on. Most of those companies also have well written mission and vision statements. But how often have you seen any of that really tie back to actual reasons any one person would choose to give it everything they’ve got? For me, that’s been incredibly rare!

From time to time, Cindy and I work through an exercise with clients where we challenge them to identify the goals they’d like to achieve, personally or professionally, within the next five to ten years. Before we ever start digging into what they may need to do to achieve them, we press them really hard to explain WHY they’ve identified those specific things as their goals. Quite honestly, that’s usually really tough for them to articulate. We’ve all been programmed to a degree to believe we should be working toward certain things, but we rarely give anything all we’ve got without having absolute clarity around WHY we’re working for it. Since that’s typically a 45-60 minute exercise, I won’t even attempt to explain it in any more detail here…

After we’ve got the WHY dialed in though, we have a strong shot at helping that person detail the steps they’ll need to take action on along the way to actually achieve their goal. Make no mistake though, this isn’t as simple as jotting down a quick list of vague tasks! If any of us really want to achieve significant results, we’ll have to be willing to put in significant work. And for most of us, this requires a level of engagement unlike anything we’ve even done before. World class athletes rely on their coaches and trainers to help them hone their skills and challenge them to push through any of their current barriers. When we work with someone in a Strategic Leadership Coaching relationship, we do that same thing. We help identify the tools the individual will need to develop their skills then we work with them to define very specific behaviors they’ll need to put in place to reach the various short term goals they’ve outlined so they remain on the course toward reaching their longer term destination. 

If we’re only looking for more water, it can be really tough to leave our current shore. But once we have clarity in what we want as our destination, it’s so much easier to engage in the process we’ll need to follow to get there. Then we need to provide that same kind of vision for our team, which takes us back to the importance of charting the course that we started with - providing our teams with a clear vision of the destination we’re heading for!