Can You Lead Your Team Where It Is Going?

Guest Blog Post by Chris Warner 2/16/12

Can You Lead Your Team Where It Is Going?Too often, leaders find it difficult to develop and convey a team vision. This weakness in a leader can prove to be expensive. You can’t be surprised to see your team end up in the wrong place if they don’t know where they are headed. And, even if you arrive at the end goal, more than likely the time it took to get there was longer than expected. Leaders need to become experts at understanding and conveying their vision, particularly in today’s economy.

So, is there really a problem not having a vision clear enough to convey? It was for George H.W. Bush. According to the US Senate’s website bio of Bush, he lost re-election for President because “…he suffered from his lack of ‘the vision thing,’ which is a clarity of principles and ideas that could influence Congress and shape public opinion.” Columnist George Will complained that Bush didn’t say why he wanted to be President, so the voters didn’t know if they should care if he won or not.

The first step in visioning is to have a Mission Statement, and goal setting for the team will follow. The purpose of a good Mission Statement is to communicate to the world the reason the company exists. Vision illustrates the path we take to move from where we are today to the where we want to go. Goals are those tests we meet along the way to achieving the mission.

After a team knows what their vision, it is your job as their leader to establish great communication. Your team will need to hear from you not only the Mission Statement (vision), but also the challenges they need to overcome along the way (goals). Have you established a motivating, memorable Mission Statement, clear vision and written goals for your teams?

Is it really important to write down a teams goals and communicate them to your members? When 400,000 sales people were surveyed, it was found that those that had taken the time to write out their goals were consistently among the top performers. Research at Dominican University found that those people that commit to writing their goals on paper, creating an action plan to achieve them and then reporting on their progress from time to time will be 50% more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t.

Sport’s psychologists say that you have to have two types of goals: performance (qualitative) goals and outcome (quantitative) goals. When we climbed K2, the world’s most deadly mountain, we had two outcome goals: get to the summit and get home. And we had our performance goal: climb the mountain in a style that we would be proud of. We talked all the time about these goals especially the style goal. Style is subjective, so we worked hard to define it for ourselves.

In our work, we have found success in challenging a team to choose a goal that seems improbable, in fact where the chance of failure seems greater than the chance of success. Odd but true, if the goal that is set is too easy, the change of failure is actually more likely, because the team members don’t commit to giving 100%. Better to choose a goal that can be reached only by the entire team changing their behavior to reach the goal. And, once that goal is set, every team member can do their part to reach it.

As a final word, it is absolutely NOT necessary for each team member to agree upon a goal for the entire to team to function at peak performance. Because when people are passionate about their mission, they will put the success of that mission ahead of personal satisfaction. So as long as your team can agree on its mission, your members will support goals to achieve it regardless of whether they like them or not.

Chris Warner, one of nine Americans to summit both Everest and K2, is an expert at leading and creating high performance teams. He is one of the many talented Leadership Speakers you will find on


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