“In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.”
– Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵), famous Japanese swordsman (~1584-1645) in “The Book of Five Rings” (五輪書)
The more businesses urgency increases, the more important it is for business leaders and managers to regularly step back and reflect on the 3 cornerstones supporting the development of an healthy organization: the understanding of the overall business environment and related company directions, the appreciation of the company teams situation and the alignment with one self as part of the management team. Answering the questions from this post is a first step that should help any leader to initiate a deeper thinking exercise when and where required.
Download a one-page executive summary here (PDF or JPEG format): Leader Checkpoint: 9 critical questions
As leaders and managers, growing a sustainable organization requires to constantly align the company business, the teams in charge of delivering on the company mission and oneself. If only two of these three cornerstones are in sync, disaster is very probably a matter of time…
More concretely, imagine the result for your company, your teams and/or yourself in the following misalignment cases:
Alignment between Business environment and Self but unsynchronized with Team: As a manager, you are fully motivated and aware of what you have to deliver with which support, with a clear understanding of your company priorities under the given business context, but your teams do no longer understand the company strategy and do not follow on the required organizational changes; key staff attrition increases rapidly…
- Alignment between Team and Self but unsynchronized with Business environment: Under your leadership, your team has reached a high level of maturity leading to strong performance; you have supported its development leveraging with agility on your management strengths and expertise while continuing improving on your weaknesses and you have built a solid relationship based on trust and respect with your team members. Nonetheless neither you nor your team understand any more what the customers expect and how the company is trying to answer to those new needs…
- Alignment between Business environment and Team but unsynchronized with Self: Your company has just identified new trends changing the landscape of your industry and is preparing the necessary organization adjustment; your team gets clearly why a change is needed at that stage but you are already over-loaded and do not know whether you would have the ability to lead an organizational change at this stage while handling in parallel some personal difficulties…
In order to (re)initiate the thinking process on those 3 cornerstones, answer the 9 questions below in the “Practice” section. To some questions, answers may pop instantaneously whereas, to some others, you may stay perplex. In any case, note down your answers; they can be used later as a basis for a deeper study by yourself, with your teams, management or peers. Take the time to run this checkpoint exercise once or twice a year at least (at a time and in a place where you can focus).
exercise 1: Reflect on your business
- What makes your organization unique in the value it delivers to its customers?
- How does your organization anticipate and answer to the forces (re)shaping your ecosystem?
- As part of the management team, what does your company expect you to achieve to support its mission in both a short-term and long-term perspective?
- exercise 2: Reflect on your teams
- If you’d ask each of your staff to explain in 2 minutes what your company position and uniqueness are, as well as what the expectation regarding their individual and team contribution in supporting the company mission is, what would be the result?
- If you had to rebuild from scratch your organization, which of your current employees would you ask to join, in which role and why?
- How does the development plan set for your teams and their members match the individual trajectories?
- exercise 3: Reflect on yourself
- What are your top 3 personal and professional successes and failures over the past 12 months?
- What is the “one thing” that you want to achieve personally and professionally over the next 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, 10 years and how?
- What are the intrinsic or extrinsic conditions that could prevent you from aligning with your company objectives and with your teams?
From your business universe, your teams, yourself, taking time to grasp the context and to understand the situation at hands is what will allow you to set the relevant action plan to support the development of your organization, teams and self on the long run. Running regularly a simple 9-question self-reflection on your business, teams and self can help you to identify areas to study and discuss in deeper details as a next step.
Last Revision: 2015 March 28