Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Are We There Yet?

Many of us have heard this question this summer as we have traveled with young (and sometime not so young) passengers.  Of course, this presupposes that we know where we are going!  We will only know if we are there if we have a clear idea of our destination.  Often, some have one idea while others have another.

In a recent blog, Mark Miller wrote, “Have you ever been confused by a message you received from a leader? Have you ever received mixed messages from leaders in your organization? If your organization has at least two leaders, I’m confident the answer is ‘yes!’”  So how do you avoid sending mixed messages throughout your organization?  Who defines the destination so that we all get to the same place at the right time?

Most organizations—secular or faith-based—tend to attract driven, creative people who are seeking ways to advance the mission of the organization (and perhaps their own agendas as well).  The greatest challenge is to find ways to bring all of these varied ideas, motivations, and abilities together around a common cause so that everyone arrives at the same destination.

Miller suggests that the way to do this is to increase alignment, clarity and unity.  Here are some suggestions about how to do this.

First, we must have alignment or get everyone pointed in the same direction.  We do this by asking the question, “What do we value?”  Our values guide us to our destination.  They determine not only where we will go but what methods we will use to get there.  Failure to embrace our values will lead not only to confusion but loss of people along the way.

Second, clarity gives us the ability to talk with precision about what we are doing so that we can understand each other.  Do we speak a common language and have a common vocabulary?  Do we use the same terms but mean different things?  We must have the ability to embrace terminology that clearly communicates what we are about in order to avoid alienation.

Third, we must seek unity with our traveling companions.  This does not mean that we will all think alike, but it does make us ask, “Are we willing to give up on non-essentials for the greater good?”  Real unity is based on integrity—making agreements and then following through on them.  We may not get what we want as individuals but as a group we will all be better off.

Many organizations are fully of talented, well-meaning people, but they have no idea where they are going.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

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