Over the past 4 years I have been privileged to work side-by-side with peers and thought leaders to focus on developing greater vision, alignment, and traction both in my own company as well as helping guide others with theirs. This has been an incredible learning experience as we have shared ideas, best practices, and processes, holding each other accountable along the way.
As I read books from great authors like Pat Lencioni, Jim Collins, Gino Wickman, and others on leading a business, I noticed how these great thought leaders are all within our lifetime. Perhaps it is the power of the internet to know and be known that has opened the floodgates for leadership development. At the same time I wondered why there didn’t appear to be much in the way of thought leaders before our time who shared their experiences outside the occasional quote or biography.
That was until recently. During a time of daily devotions I was studying Philippians 3. As I read through verses 12 to 19 I happened to read them in The Message translation. Wow, what an AHA moment. While I know Paul was speaking towards a relationship with Christ, the parallels with vision, alignment, and traction are astonishing.
I recently ran across this version of Aesop’s fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion”
on a blog post by writer/columnist Charlie Scott and felt it speaks to a core value most companies have, or want to have. Being a “TEAM PLAYER”
. I hope you find some small bit of inspiration from it.
In the days before civilization, out on the prairie there lived four oxen: Frank, Harry, Skip and Greg. These oxen had learned over time that they were safer as a group. Whenever anything that looked dangerous approached, twitches from any one of the oxens’ ears was the signal for all of them to band together and take defensive positions. Their defense was elementary but effective. The four oxen would back their tails together with each ox facing outward. (This may have been the first recorded “I’ve got your back” teamwork.) This configuration allowed the oxen to see in all directions.
A little while back, a friend and mentor shared the lesson of the Cod and the Catfish with me.
He said fisherman discovered that when cod are captured and put in a live well they become lethargic and die before the fishing boats return to shore. This makes the cod useless and uneatable. The fisherman then put catfish in the live well with the cod and they discovered something remarkable. The catfish poke, prod, nip and totally aggravate the cod so that upon return the cod are alive and well.
Ingredient #1: How do we behave?
I hope you took some time to reflect on "Why we exist" and gained some clarity on the reality that we exist simply because people need us. We have the unique opportunity to solve their problems and bring value to their lives. The value we bring is created through 5 key ingredients.
Why do we exist?
Have you ever really thought about why we exist? Not as members of the human race, although that is a great conversation I would love to have with anyone interested. I mean, why do we exist as a company? Why did we open our doors? Why do we continue to do what we do every day?
I recently had the opportunity to work with one of our industry peers on their annual planning for 2014. One of the key topics challenging the team was to confirm they had a clear vision, communicated that vision, and make certain everyone was on the same page. It occurred to me as we reviewed their Core Values, Core Focus, 3-Year Picture, and 1-Year Plan to share with all, it would require great clarity. Something I believe is often missing in many companies who have a desire to grow, but seem to be stuck.
Just like my friend in the industry, we need to make sure we are building clarity across our entire organization. Clarity, for the purpose of building a great company can best be expressed through 6 vital questions author Pat Lencioni shares in his book, The Advantage: