No matter the context, being appointed to a leadership position can be daunting. Whether you’ve just been asked to coach a little league team or you’ve been promoted to an executive role at your company, leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. But no matter how big the team of people you lead is – or how high the stakes are – the challenges behind leadership remain the same.
Indeed, the biggest challenge of being a leader is, well, leading. That means steering a ship full of people all the way to its destination, no matter how rough the waters get after you depart. Luckily, there are two questions that can help guide you on the journey.
The first is: Where are you and your organization at right now? What challenges are you currently facing?
To figure this out, the best thing you can do as a leader is to listen, and the best people to listen to are front-line, customer-facing employees. After all, they’re directly aware of the issues your customers are experiencing. Whether they’re cashiers, salespeople or customer support agents, their insights will be infinitely more valuable than any expensive outside consultant coming in to diagnose your organization’s woes.
There are a number of ways you can go about gathering these insights; you could try anonymous methods such as an online survey, for example. But if you want to be effective,
you need a more intimate approach, like BBC Radio 1’s “pizza meetings,” where people from all over the company come together for free pizza – and to share insights on the company’s issues.
Now that you know where your company is, you’re ready to ask the second question: Where do you want to go? At this point, don’t get stuck in vague mission statements or coming up with a “vision” – these are time-wasting, bullshit approaches to leadership.
Take the English rugby team’s loss during the first round at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Their new head coach, Eddie Jones, found himself asking the two leadership questions. He knew where his team was at – embarrassed and defeated. And where did the team want to go? They wanted to win the next World Cup in 2019. Instead of hand-wringing, Jones immediately moved the team onto working toward that goal.
And it’s as easy as that. No consultants, no visions, no mission statements and no bullshit. Just leading.