Remember the old saying “If you have no goal and plan, any road will get you to where you are going”? That is precisely why we must know our boss’s expectations of us and, in turn, why our associates must know our expectations of them. The best way to do this is the simple way. Keeping expectations simple means that neither we nor any of our associates need an infallible memory for details. A few key goals, objectives , or action plans are all we need to be certain every associate has a clear understanding of what we expect of the organizational unit and, most important, what is expected of them to achieve the unit goals. Remember, expectations are set so the leader and the associates can achieve the organization’s goals.
A few key elements done well can make you a successful leader. The same premise drives the ten LEADERSHIP principles. This idea has nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with focus. Every great leader’s story tells how a simple strategy, simple plans, and simple execution won the day. Doing a few jobs better than anybody
else is what makes McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines so successful. True genius makes the most complex simple. Einstein wrote E = mc2 and changed the world. If that genius can boil his great thought down to a few symbols, we as leaders can boil our thoughts down to a few key words, phrases, or sentences.
If you were going to launch a business or some other type of enterprise, you would need to start with a vision of what the organization would look like in its prime. It could be “We want to put a PC in every home,” or “We want to delight our customers,” or “We want to be the largest company in the world.” As simple or as grandiose as you choose to make it, this vision statement would reflect what you want to be when you have achieved “perfection.” It may or may not be realistic to expect it to be achievable, but it should reflect your highest ideal. Obviously, the next step is to define the organization’s mission. Although the CEO should spearhead the development of the mission statement, making sure the lower organizational levels know and understand their roles in contributing to the organization’s mission is a vital part of accomplishing that mission. An enterprise’s mission might be “to manufacture parts for the aviation industry” or “to provide accounting services to the small business entrepreneur.” A charitable foundation‘s mission might be “to fund a select group of organizations providing support for battered or abused women.”At a lower organizational level, a leader’s mission statement could be “to make the final stamping operation for airframe components”
or “to manage the bank reconciliation efforts for all clients” or “to evaluate proposals for seed funding for new projects by existing client organizations.” Whatever the level, each unit must understand what it is supposed to do. You, as the department’s leader, must either get this information from “above” or set the mission yourself. Then and only then can you proceed effectively to set strategy and goals. Strategy usually answers the question “How are we going to accomplish the mission?” For a parts manufacturer, the answer could be using modern flow manufacturing techniques that minimize inventory requirements. For an accounting service, it could be a marketing concept of selling only to franchisees of major chains. For a not-for-profit, it could be a decision to solicit funds from people who have just sold an initial public offering and have dramatically appreciated stock that could be donated through a vehicle that offers tax advantages. Whatever the strategy, or strategies, the statement probably needs to be a way of doing something, not a specific set of tasks to do. For a non-CEO leader, the strategy concept is a little less helpful but may still apply in some instances. A manufacturing section leader might focus on reducing rework; an accounting supervisor might try to develop a system to ensure that automated account reconciliation on all accounts exceeds a predetermined size. In the case of a proposal section manager for a consulting firm, the strategy might focus on finding ways to identify key factors that impact the customer/prospect’s decision. As you can see, these are all concepts of how to approach the mission, not specific actions.