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Directed Introspection


One of the greatest obstacles to progress can often be our awareness of past failures. If we tried something a couple of years ago and fell flat on our faces (and especially if we were ridiculed or derided as a result) we tend to be reluctant to rock the boat again. When we believe that history will repeat itself, we become paralysed by fear.

Mentoring managers through a process that I sometimes refer to as "directed introspection" in order to expose attitudes and prejudices can often produce startling results. Knowing where we are starting from does not in and of itself guarantee that we will arrive at our desired destination (on time and within budget) but not knowing weights the odds heavily against us. I believe that if we want to go somewhere we must first know who we are and where we are. When we know the starting point, personally and professionally, in regard to ourselves, our people and our company we are more likely to have a clear picture of where we want to go, how to get there and what must change.

I believe that as many people as possible in an organization should be involved in the process of creating statements of Vision, Mission, Purpose, Values, and Goals. When people have had a hand in the creation, buy in to do what ever is necessary to get results is almost automatic. When these guiding principles are understood by everyone from the "Ivory Tower" all the way to the Shop Floor everyone knows where we are going, why we are going there and what we have to do to get there. They also know the down side of not going there and of not participating in the process. Is not the search for heaven made more intense by the awareness of hell? In addition, when everyone understands his or her WIIFM, (What's In It For Me) getting results is like picking low hanging fruit.

Vision must be followed by a plan

Strategic planning can be an arduous (but exhilarating) process. Often a three day retreat with an outside facilitator is the only way to get the concentrated focus, the brainstorming, necessary to initiate the process. We must examine all aspects or the organization, physical and human resources, management skills and needs, culture, attitudes, market place, industry, supplier relations, customer relations, government regulations, labour agreements, etc., etc. We have to remember that Rome was not built in a day. If we are looking for instant gratification we will surely be disappointed.

When we have suspended our doubts and fears, set aside our memories of past failure, forgotten our prejudices, examined our strengths and planned to enhance them, seen in our minds eye the potential within ourselves and our organization, created a vision in which we believe, we will become advocates for our organization and evangelists for the realization of that vision.

Once we are over the initial hurdle we will be driven by the power of our vision for the future. A clearly articulated vision coupled to a specific plan of action for its attainment (including target dates for each step), and a firm commitment to that action, is an unstoppable combination. YES, it will require perseverance, dedication and hard work; and YES, it will be extremely satisfying!

Effecting organizational and personal change is never a cake walk but learning the basics of how to set goals and create plans with specific, time sensitive action steps for their achievement can be learned in only a few hours. When coupled to powerful statements of Vision, Mission, Purpose, and Values, and a well-organized coaching, mentoring and measurement process, the pain is minimal while the results are huge!

Len McNally C.I.M. President of The Leadership Centre

Len McNally is President and founder (in 1996) of The Leadership Centre, dedicated to leadership development, management team building and change management through executive and corporate coaching - from the top floor to the shop floor. With more than thirty years experience in sales, marketing and business development Len has for many years been an avid student of psychology, behavior and motivation. He still reads three to four books a month and has writen several book reviews for Amazon.com. He can be reached at (519) 759-1127 or email: the.leadership.centre@sympatico.ca. Other articles may be seen at: http://www.tlc-leadership.com


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