Leadership : Developing Superior Performance

Karen Hosey is President and CEO of Z.O.E. Consulting, LLC, with over 24 years experience in strategic planning, sales and leadership development. She currently assists businesses and ministries in achieving their vision through customized processes in strategic planning, marketing and leadership development.

Would you tell me, please which way I ought to go from here?” she asked.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” was the reply.
“I don’t much care where --” she said.
“Then, it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

That excerpt comes from Alice in Wonderland. The scene is when Alice comes to a crossroads and discovers the Cheshire cat perched in a tree. It’s a poignant reminder that the path we take will determine our destination. Whether it’s the path that we are taking for ourselves, or the one we want to lead our organization on, it really does matter where we want to go.

There are five critical responsibilities of a leader.  When these responsibilities are fulfilled, they provide direction, boundaries and empowerment.  When people know where they are going (direction), understand what is within their realm of responsibility (boundaries), and are free to make decisions within those boundaries (empowered) they begin to take ownership.  Ownership provides the channel through which your staff can focus their energies, efforts and talents.

As we look at these five responsibilities judge yourself and your organization.  Are they all in place?  Have they been effectively communicated: ask people on all levels to articulate them, if they cannot, then they have not been adequately communicated.

Vision — A vision needs to be a clearly defined picture of your future.  It is the image against which everything is measured.  It defines why you exist.

Values — What are the values of the organization?  These are the nonnegotiable values against which everything is judged.  Values may be service, integrity, creativity, etc. 

Priorities — Values must be prioritized.  Of all of your values which takes precedence when they conflict?  For example; Business A has the following values:  service, integrity and financial stewardship.  In a cash flow crunch, in order to meet their customer service standard they could delay paying their vendors. They risk having no money for payroll; however they could meet that obligation if they divert cash from the retirement account.  The values are in conflict.  Which takes priority? 

Goals — There are two types of goals:  organizational and individual.  Without goals, an organization is like a ship without a rudder; it is subject to the last idea that was presented.  Good ideas are sacrificed for expedient ideas.  Projects start and stop with no real progress being made.  Organizational goals are critical because they give substance to the vision. 

The other types of goals are individual.  Each staff member should have clearly defined goals which enable them to focus their energy and give them a sense of purpose.  The individual goals must be aligned with the organizational goals.  All goals, both organizational and individual must align and support the values.

Roles — Who is responsible for what?  How are decisions made?  Does the leader respect the roles of others or is “second-guessing” and interference common place?  Know who is responsible and empower them within their area of responsibility then allow them to lead.

The above core areas are integral components of the strategic planning process.  If your organization does not embrace strategic planning, if the above core elements are not part of the culture, the path you are on will not lead to the success you envision.  However, if your embrace these critical responsibilities of a leader, you will provide the momentum and direction needed for success.

© copyright Karen Hosey 2007

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