In my last post, I presented the concept of the Quantum Leader and indicated that this post would concentrate on providing a practical approach to managing the dynamic presented. But now, let me focus the conversation on the importance of defining what matters and how that can become an incredibly valuable operational and strategic tool.
The bottom-line: Living with purpose and focusing ourselves and our teams on “What Matters” is what matters.
Opportunity exceeds biological capacity. Therefore, you must have a framework for making decisions. Critical to that framework is being clear about what is important to you and your organization. Your goals, objectives and your actions must be consistent and align with what’s important. Otherwise, you sub-optimize scarce resources (most notably time & talent) and gradually erode your credibility as a leader.
When we’re deep in operational execution, we have a tendency to set-aside these types of discussions. We acknowledge their importance, but too many see it as optional or, to borrow an overused cliché, merely icing on the cake. Think about it, who wants to eat cake without icing?
This is not to say a leader is to get lost in strategy, either. Any strategy that takes too long to develop and does not have a positive impact on day to day operations is a bad strategy. A strategy is an operational tool. The genesis of a great strategy is definition of purpose and clarity about what matters.
Our goal should be to make better decisions about what opportunities to pursue and what opportunities to sideline (temporarily or indefinitely) and to help every member of your organization do the same. Without defining what matters and going through a collaborative process of getting buy-in you are leaving more to chance than you should be comfortable with.
The job of a leader is to inspire, focus and mobilize. Most leaders are excellent at getting teams mobilized. Yet, while you may be moving, how do you know you are moving in the in the right direction? You need a guidepost or roadmap. Can you function as a leader and run an organization without knowing what matters or having a roadmap? Most certainly. Can you be successful? Maybe. How do you know what success looks like if you have not defined it?
Defining purpose, vision, mission, goals, objectives, and measures of effectiveness serve as the foundation. Defining story helps stakeholders understand, align and begin to contribute. Leveraging this foundation, you can define roles and responsibilities and set expectations and standards. All this now begins to shape and define your corporate culture.
Culture is not declared. It is built in a systematic way over time just like anything else we expect to be valuable and enduring. It becomes the solid foundation upon which you can build applying the discipline, focus, commitment and sacrifice required to fulfill big, audacious commitments you make to yourself and others.
Your culture becomes your filter, or, better said, a vital operational tool.