Change in organizations is a constant. In their desire to change quickly, achieve goals and move the organization forward, many leaders get ahead of their people.
If the leader outpaces the followers, over time, followers gets lost.Think of starting an automotive race. If the pace car goes 100 miles an hour, while the other vehicles go 60, the racers never catch up. When a leader outpaces followers, the direct reports are likely to slow down or even stop, because they lose sight of where they’re going, get distracted or no longer understand the urgency of the situation.
A Leading with Trust blog illustrates three things leaders need to do to keep everyone moving together:
Identify the Place. The leader must identify the desired outcome – what the team needs to achieve. Think about the future and describe in detail what will be different. Example: Our team will increase prospects in the manufacturing sector by 20% and achieve $500,000 more in signed proposals in 2015.
Clear the Path. The path is the “how” – the strategies, tactics, and goals the team is going to employ to reach its destination. Leaders need to be involved in creating plans, clarifying roles and responsibilities and figuring out how and when progress will be measured.
Set the Pace Leaders must be conscious about the pace, or how fast/slow the team will move/change. The leader’s pace can’t be too much faster than the team, and the leader needs to stay ahead. It may be possible that parts of your plan will need a different momentum.
We’d add another step to keeping the right leader/follower pace:
Stay Connected. In order to develop and influence their people, leaders must gain and keep an understanding of what makes them tick, what they need to be successful and where they want to be in the future. Rethink your role as a leader as something you do with followers, not to followers.
Leaders and followers need shared goals, strong connections, feedback loops and coordinated action to be successful. This won’t happen if you move ahead without bringing your people along.