leadership incorporated blog

May 6, 2012

Why CEOs Need To Become GPSs

Randy is the CEO of a Solar Energy company. Back in 2010, she and her senior team spent 3 months of executive team meetings developing promising 1-year, 3-year and 5-year visions for the company. When they shared their picture of success with the rest of the organization in early 2011, everyone was energized and excited. It was all they talked about — for a month.

There was some initial forward movement toward their objectives. But those first steps surfaced some unexpected challenges and uncertainty about how to proceed. When a huge project came in and demanded everyone’s time and attention, it was so much easier to put those growth goals aside “for the time-being.”

A year later, when people speak of the vision, it’s with cynicism.

This isn’t an unusual scenario. Many companies struggle with the challenge of keeping an organization on track towards growth goals while maintaining the current core business.

From point A, the path to your desired point B may seem clear. But once you move off point A, even a little bit, things can look very different and feel much less certain. Next steps can become less clear. And there’s nothing like the certainty of what you already do well to distract the team and send them racing back to the safety and security of point A.

One thing that can make a huge difference is for the CEO (and other leaders) to continue having planning meetings (Randy thought they were done when the vision was complete and presented!) and to continuously restate the vision for the team in the context of what is happening now.

It’s kind of like being a GPS device for your company, keeping everyone aware of where they are and continually rerouting based on what’s going on in the moment.

As projects came in, the team needed to hear from Randy: “OK. We have a big project that’s going to demand our time and attention, but this doesn’t mean we aren’t still moving toward our goals. Here’s how we’ll do that now…”

What goals do you have that have lost momentum because when you moved off your starting point the path became less clear?

Time to become the GPS and reroute.

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