With all the buzz around designing great products and services that take hold in the marketplace, the admonishment of Steven Covey to insure our ladder of success is leaning against the right wall feels antiquated and hard to fund. The focus on lean, pivots and paydays has energized the entrepreneur to capitalize on this moment in history – as they should.
When Mr. Covey talks about leaning your ladder against the right wall, he's not talking about making sure your product or service is being driven by market demand. He's talking about arriving at a milestone and liking who you've become and the culture you've created.
I don't believe many leaders imagine that in 5, 10, 20 years that they will become something they wince at. I also don't believe many leaders imagine much of anything when it comes to their future selves and the culture they're building, 5 to 20 years down the road.
Not having a leadership stance, true north, core values – or whatever you want to label it – is a surefire way to end come up short. As the old saying goes; If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Here are 3 tangible things I've used to help plan where I want to be 5 to 20 years down the road.
Identify your core values and the values you want to nurture. If you are unsure where to start, let me recommend:
- Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide
- The Leadership Challenge
- FranklinCovey – Live With Purpose (online tool)
Keep your vision and value in front of you. You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT underestimate the power of time and success will have on pulling you away from your vision and values. Keep them in front of you – daily.
Be on guard that your mission statement doesn't unravel your vision statement. Mission statements will often take center stage in daily operations as they speak to how the work gets done (as opposed to a vision statement that speaks to the type of people we are and are becoming). Their is a REAL danger in allowing the mission statement to "infect" the very essence of what your vision statement is trying to protect against. The perspective the mission statement offers provokes a response – which centers on process and execution, resulting in judgment. If you allow that perspective to define your vision and values, you will inevitably breed a culture of criticism, finger pointing and mistrust. (Pro-Tip: keeping your vision and values in front of you and those you lead will guide your team in how the mission is executed.)
Invest in your team. I don't mean you should hang motivational photography and quotes around the office (although I'm sure that is better than nothing at all). Leadership implies one thing – you have followers. Its our job as leaders to make sure our team has a clear path to follow, especially when it comes to vision and values.