Leading in Rapidly Changing Times – Go for Gold

The Winter Olympics are here! For me, that means I will watch more ice skating events in the next little while than I would normally watch in a year. There are many things that amaze me about the skill and art of ice-skating and one of the most mind-blowing for me are the spins.  How can they possibly spin that fast and NOT get dizzy. You might be thinking, what does that have to do with leading in rapidly changing time – well actually, I think it’s a pretty apt metaphor.

You as a leader are trying to keep up with everything happening around you – external market factors, your competition, keeping your best people, managing costs, innovation…it can make your head spin! What we can learn from skaters and dancers is that having a clear spot to focus on when you start and finish is key. 

A great “spot” is your personal mission statement or company’s mission statement.  What’s important is that you as a leader have a clear view of long-term goals so that when you’re getting bumped and pulled by the many competing factors, you can keep your eye on the long-term vision and be the cornerstone for your team. 

In Habit 2, Begin with the End in Mind, from Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey reminds us of the key difference and importance between leadership and management: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”. And further, “we are more in need of a vision or destination and a compass (a set of principles or directions) and less in need of a road map. We often do not know what the terrain ahead will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgement at the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.” 

Ever notice how Olympians all have at least one coach? Here they are at the top of their game and they still require someone to watch them practice, give them feedback, provide encouragement to help them see their vision clearly every time they go on the ice. Leaders can use the same support.  Working with a professional leadership coach is one of the best ways I know to develop a clear vision and develop habits that support you achieving that vision. 

Bottom line, with a clear vision, the support of a coach and practice, you have a great shot at obtaining “gold” for you and your company.  

Kristen Ward is a Director and Senior Consultant in the Center for Family Business Excellence within the Private Business Services Practice.

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