There isn’t much more frustrating than road signs that don’t help you find your way. If you have a GPS system, you can find you way no matter what the road signs say. But if you don’t, you sometimes have to guess and hope you end up in the right place. In organizations, the best road signs are the people. Pay attention to the signals you are getting from them. Ignoring them can lead to dead ends, or worse, bridge-out disasters.
WHEN PEOPLE ARE…
…LOST: It is because no one (including the leadership) has any idea where the organization is. [Input from too few sources and denial of reality is often the problem.]
…UNSURE: It is because the organization is always changing directions–west today, east tomorrow, last week it was south. [This can be a result of a “latest fad” strategy–if it worked for them, maybe it will work for us.]
…CONFUSED: It is because the road signs are in conflict, one pointing north and one pointing south. [One leader is saying one thing; another leader is saying something else.]
…UNCLEAR: It is because communication is unclear: “Do you have any idea what he said?” [Responsibility for clarity is with the communicator, not the listener. What you think you said and what people heard are often not the same thing.]
…PERPLEXED: It is because values, policies, etc., don’t apply to everyone. [Preferential treatment for some (especially self) will kill your credibility as a leader.]
…BEWILDERED: It is because they have no idea “why” the organization is headed a particular direction. [Purpose, values, vision, strategy, etc., are not understood.]
…DISORIENTED: It is because they are LOST, UNSURE, CONFUSED, UNCLEAR, PERPLEXED, and BEWILDERED. The organization seems to be spinning out of control and they feel helpless and hopeless. [Instead of blaming the people, the leaders should take a hard look at how they are leading.]
Wonder where your organization is headed? Look at the road signs. And remember, if you don’t change direction, you’ll end up where you are headed.
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner