Over the years, a lot of business gurus have pontificated on why organizations fail. This is not surprising since on any given day, you are likely to learn about some firm that is struggling to recover from a rash of poor results. In trying to summarize all the wisdom from the experts, I outline here six fairly simple traps and how to avoid them:
1.) Lack of Vision – The troops are anxious to know what the game plan is. What is the organization trying to accomplish and what does the final result look like? The vision should create the dream that can motivate people. The leader should also continually invite feedback on ways to tweak that vision to make it even more impactful.
2.) Under-Communicating the Vision – Strong leaders know that at every juncture you need to keep the picture of the goal in front of their people. Constant reference should be made to it, how it will be accomplished, and what the implications will be once the vision is achieved. Via such communication, each and every member of the organization should be able to describe the vision in fairly accurate terms.
3.) Staffing – It’s critical to get the right people in the right jobs. Most importantly, it’s dangerous to leave individuals in roles that they have played for a long period of time; chances are high they will primarily protect the status quo. They act that way primarily out of fear of what change will bring.
4.) Lack of Short-Term Wins – It’s dangerous for an organization to have an exciting vision but have to wait a year or two before they can sense that progress toward the vision is being achieved. That’s a leadership mistake. The effort needs to be structured so that on a regular basis, there are “mile-posts” that make it clear that final success is closer to becoming a reality.
5.) Declaring Victory Too Soon – While everyone is anxious to complete the effort and to enjoy the benefits, it’s really dangerous to not have the measurements in place which clearly demonstrate when the final goal has been achieved. Once you indicate that success has been achieved, there will be a natural letdown which is a dangerous thing if you are really not totally finished with the effort.
6.) Starting All Over Again – Once the final vision is achieved and the celebrations occur, it is important to remind the troops that you are never done. You need to begin immediately working on how it is that you can have a major impact in the future over and above what you’ve already achieved. Then you get the honor of starting the whole process over once again.
The wise leader will regularly remind themselves of the critical importance of this straight-forward advice from the experts.