Clearing the Path How Leaders Set the Direction When Team Members Cannot

Clearing the Path: How Leaders Set the Direction When Team Members Cannot

As a leader, you may have a very vivid understanding of your company’s priorities, needs, initiatives, and future work. Other employees, however, without the benefit of high-level insights and perspective, may have a harder time in seeing the direction to take.

Leaders understand this paradox and do several things to combat it. There’s clear communication about goals and tasks that focuses on how each employee plays a role in broader success. There’s leading by example by focusing your own work on these highest priorities.

To be effective, and to spur efficacy in their teams, leaders need to be bold and take the first steps. It’s the foundation for clearing the path: how leaders set the direction when team members cannot.

Leaders need to clear the path by establishing their knowledge, expertise, and confidence in the work to be done. This can be done by three discrete tasks that collectively will drive the work forward.

1) Set the Destination

Leaders need to articulate a bold, clear outcome – the destination – that is sought. It could be a specific deliverable or reaching a measurable milestone that demonstrates progress.

This destination needs to be achievable and inspirational. It needs to relate to your organization’s business strategy and be one that everyone can see why it’s important. Without setting the destination, workers are more likely to go off on tangents that do not relate to the stated destination. This causes frustration and is an inefficient use of time and resources.

2) Blaze the Trail

Often employees will be unsure of the direction needed to reach the destination. Blazing the trail is one way for leaders to allow their employees to succeed. At the heart of clearing the path, trailblazing means getting out ahead of the employees’ work, providing the resources (time, budget, and responsibility) that allows them to succeed. Obstacles need to be cleared, creating a foundation that lets the important work to be done.

While not all of the obstacles may be known at the start of path-clearing, they inevitably will appear. To be effective and respected, leaders need to be out in front of these as much as possible, and when they do appear, act quickly to clear them. If that’s not possible, then leaders need to blaze a new trail that gets everyone on the right path to the destination.

3) Set the Pace

One of the key roles of the bandleader is to set the tempo. How quickly or slowly a team moves is up to the leader. Setting the pace requires having a clear idea of how long it will take to get the job done, guided by a realistic assessment of team abilities and other work.

The leader needs to make sure everyone is moving at the right pace for success to ensure that the desired outcome is achieved on time.

At Center for Victory, we help companies find and develop great leaders. Our leadership training tools help companies hone talent that can lead effectively. Contact us to see how Center for Victory can help your leaders clear the path.

From January 18, 2019

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