Posted on October 2, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Leading Change: Setting the Vision for the Path Forward
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
Proverbs 29.18
If you’re like most senior leaders, you’re buried in minutiae: paperwork , eMail, meetings and phone calls.  When you have time, you sift through data to see how things are going.  If they aren’t going according to plan?  Then more meetings, eMails and phone calls.  The question begs to be asked, when do you find time to lead?
If you believe leading is important, I hope I don’t need to convince you that managing is not leading.  Both are needed, but without leadership, the organization bumps along as best it can, never really achieving greatness, and sometimes, not even goodness.
As the quotation from Proverbs predicts, “… the people perish.”  And who are the people?  It’s your organization.  Your organization perishes when you don’t have a vision for where they’re going.
How do you change that?  First, acknowledge that, if you do nothing, things are likely to get worse, not better.
Next, you need to shed load.  You need to start training those below you to shoulder more of your burden. 
How?  You begin to mentor and coach them.  Explain what’s really important and what is less so.  Anything that originates below you (that you’d typically end up handling), have your subordinates bring to you, but then, ask them how they’d resolve the problem.  If their answer is good, send them off to do it.  If not, explain why, give them a better approach, and then send them off to execute.
As your subordinates begin to shoulder more of what had been your load, you now have time to look forward.  What are you looking for?  Industry trends, technology trends, market trends.  You’re looking over the horizon and planning where to go next.
You now make time to discuss these trends with your colleagues, your staff and with those industry experts whose opinions you respect.  You make time to think deeply about the trajectory of the future and what your organization will need to do to lead it.
When you’re ready, you bring your staff together and conduct a Hoshin Kanri event.  It’s the subject of another blog and my upcoming book, but it’s a process to help your organization determine its strategic plan, what some call True North.  Once your plan is complete, you begin assigning people or teams responsibility for pursuing each element of the plan.  They’ll report to you no less frequently than once a month until the plan is achieved, then you’ll set a new plan, or more ambitious goals for the old one.
In the space of a few months, you’ve:.
·      Turned your personal focus from the “tyranny of the inconsequential many,“ to a plan to achieve the critical few.
·      Demonstrated to your direct reports how to cascade important decision-making responsibility downward, and grew their capabilities.
·      Developed new capacity in your own day and, no doubt, grown closer to the image you’ve always had of a great leader.
·      Made time in your day to Go and See for yourself what’s really going on in your organization.
·      Set the expectation that, in the future, your staff and their direct reports are going to move from a model of reactive management to proactive leadership.
All in all, not a bad day’s work.