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Leadership Styles

Can you Drive a Business Without a Strategic Planning?

10x Marketing asked:

Can you drive a car without a steering wheel?

Can you drive a business without a strategic planning?

Piper Abodeely

Imagine driving a car without a steering wheel. Didn’t get very far did you?

An executive team had been stuck onfiguring out an operational issue for more than over half of theits weekly meeting. It was; one of those instancesmeetings where no resolution was in sight. Sound familiar? People were frustrated, defensive, and tired. Unfortunately—as this had become a regular routine for the weekly meetings: unproductive and ineffective.

In scanning the room, there was an apparent lack of team alignment, which in this case was inhibiting open dialogue that was sorely missing. an effective channel of communication. The team had become so focused on individual needsactivities that the actual function and responsibility critical mission of the team had become overlooked and forgotten. Each team member had lost sight as to how their they fit and why they matter to the team and the entire organizationrole contributed not only to the core function of the team, but the entire organization.

Ah-ha—a team coaching (www.cmoe.com/coaching.htm) opportunity! Only this time, we moved outside of the familiar common language. It was time to talk Cars.

I invited the team to look at their organization as a car and what part they might identify as symbolic of their role. For the first few moments there was silence, which quickly moved to chuckles and then progressed to laughter. What were they laughing at? How remarkably similar their role resembled , and function of their role, corresponded to a particular part of a car. We heard everything from the wheels, gasoline, and spark plugs to the engine and driver of the car. People were not only naming their own parts of the car, but started to recognize how other people on the team filled a certain function of the car: “without the gasoline in the HR department, we would lack personnel,” “If we were missing the control panel, we would have no streamlined operational measurements from the finance team.”

As the team engaged in However, within this spirited discussionshared dialogue, the teammembers identified that a fundamentala missing part of the car was missing—the steering wheel. What happens to a car without a steering wheel? What happens to a team and organization without a leader who has a clear direction in strategic planning(www.cmoe.com/strategic-planning.htm)? This simple “ah-ha” began to address the lack of clarity and alignment among the team. Not only did the team begin to experience a paradigm shift, but the simple metaphoric car exercise created the “space” for the team to re-examine themselves as a working system, and to recognize how each role is an integral component to creating a sustainable, high performing team.

The exercise gave birth to a long-term training initiative focused on answering the question: how can we guide and steer this organization so that it moves in the right direction and how can we make the changes we need, and do it in a way that creates high energy and yields extraordinary, sustainable results? The team recognized a need create a course based on two powerful foundations: high involvement and a systemic approach to improvement. The course design utilized several methodologies related to defining roles and responsibilities, identifying group norms and leadership styles, coaching skills (www.cmoe.com/coaching-skills.htm), giving and receiving feedback, creating breakthroughs innovations, and implementing action steps that will help the organization move ahead of the curve (www.cmoe.com/ahead-of-the-curve.htm).

By using these high leverage change methods, people began to see the possibility of contributing to something larger than themselves. The emphasis shifted from focusing on why something can’t be done to “how can we make this happen?” As the team began to understand their system team and individual roles at a deeper level, they recognized the need for and value of interconnections among departments, processes, and relationshipspeople. As Rosabeth Kanter from Harvard Business Schoolonce observed, “change is disturbing when it is done to us, exhilarating when it is done by us.”

The car exercise was the catalyst for implementing a highly effective and sustainable organizational change effort– ironically, it is often the simple and subtle opportunities for training that have the greatest long-term impact. that help people recognize a problem and discover the need for strategic planning (www.cmoe.com/strategic-planning.htm) to sustain organizational success.

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