In this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’m taking you on a journey towards better leadership. I share with you my own leadership lessons and insights. As a John Maxwell Team Member I’ll be happy to deliver transformational leadership training for your team or organization. See the details below.
Part 4 of 21: The Law of Navigation
The Law of Navigation: Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. ~ John C. Maxwell
Followers need leaders who are able to effectively navigate for them. Navigation is more than controlling the direction. Navigators envision the whole trip before they leave the dock. They have a vision of how they will reach their destination, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they’ll need on their team to be successful, and they recognize the obstacles long before they appear over the horizon.
Before I started my nonprofit organization back in 2002, I had a vision of the impact it could make in the community. I clearly saw the needs being met and pain being removed. I was driven by the change I envisioned. But even more, I was able to set others on fire and get them involved in this vision. Because as a leader I understood that a big vision would require big help and I couldn’t do it alone. I clearly saw the type of people I needed to have in order to turn my vision into a reality. Some of the people became incredibly influential when it came to running the nonprofit, even after I moved on to other projects.
The bigger we got, the more we depended on good navigation. Suddenly, my navigation was influencing not only my own life and family, but the lives and families of hundreds of other people. Each set back would affect others and changes took longer to plan and put into effect.
The larger the organization, the more clearly the leader has to be able to see ahead. Greater size makes mid-course corrections more difficult.The larger the organization, the more clearly the leader has to be able to see ahead. Click To Tweet
Some time ago I was leading about 200 volunteers in the children’s ministry at my church. As a new leader, I was unaware of the effect my actions would have on others. One simple email, sent in a hurry, took many emails, phone calls and personal discussions to repair the damage that was done.
I’ve learned my lesson and started to plan ahead before making even the slightest change. When I decide to make even the slightest shift in direction, I now ask…
- Is this really necessary?
- Is this going to significantly improve the situation?
If the answer to both questions is YES, then I continue my planning. Here’s what I do next…
- What am I trying to achieve? – I lay out my goals
- What needs to be done to fulfill the vision? – I define the action steps
- What do I need to do or give up to make it happen? – I adjust my priorities
- Who needs to know about it? – I notify key individuals or teams
- What’s the timeline? – Some people resist the change and may take longer to process the information. Give them the necessary time, but then move on.
Once all of the above is done, here comes my favourite part – ACTION. Nothing happens until somebody does something. Once your plan is laid out, you need to take a step forward and just do it. As you work through your plan, it’s important to keep in mind the following rules…
- Expect problems. Things are going to happen. Deadlines are going to fall apart. People are going to quit or not deliver. Keep in mind that it’s completely normal. You’re not the only one experiencing problems. The question is not whether they will come, but what will you do when you face them. If you’re creative, you might figure it out on the go. If you resist change, you will do better to have a plan B. So create one in advance.
- Always point to the successes. When things go wrong, it’s easy to forget the achievements. Write them down. Remind people often of past accomplishments. Focus on the good and positive things. It will give you the fuel necessary to move forward.
- Daily review your plan. It takes many hours to build something of value. It takes only a couple of minutes to ruin it all. The best way to stay focused and create your best results in any area of life is to have a plan and course-correct as you go along. Are you still on the right path? Is correction necessary?
This article is part of a 21-part leadership series.
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To your success,
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