Leadership: Where are We Going, and Why?

Author By Jim Lara
man with question marks overhead -leadership - where are we going and why?”

It’s very easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of day-to-day activity—especially in private or business aviation. There are so many tactical things happening every hour of every day that can distract you from the big picture. But one thing is for sure: If you don’t lead, someone else will.

One issue with being in a constant state of distraction is that your team is always assessing you as a leader.

They’re likely craving direction, along with the rationale for that direction. And they’re deciding whether they will choose to follow you or not.

After all, “followership” is optional and it’s an overt choice made by each individual.

So if you’re always putting out fires and unable to set direction—and your team doesn’t seem to be following you (by their choice)—it might be time to hit the proverbial “pause” button, on both a professional and personal basis.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. Why are we going there?

Breathe Deeply

Every 12 to 18 months, it’s important to take a deep breath and step back from the day-to-day business to very purposefully chart the course for your organization, as well as your own professional career.

If you fail to do this, you and your organization are in peril of drifting. Drifting results in a void in leadership. And, as mentioned above, that void will be filled by someone else, and the outcome will likely be counterproductive and, at a minimum, unpleasant.

In all fairness, if it’s not your “cup of tea” to closely examine your personal and professional direction, I suggest that you abandon this blog for some light reading elsewhere.

However, if you do have the courage to confront the unknown, as well as to ask and answer the truly challenging questions, read on.

Setting the Ground Rules

Ah, great! I’m glad you’re still with me! Although this may be an arduous undertaking for you, the rewards are more than worth it!

So let’s get started.

Here are a few related questions that require your thoughtful answers:

  • Why does private/business aviation, be it focused on commercial commerce or personal pursuits, exist in your enterprise or family office?
  • How does aviation add or create value for your enterprise or family office?
  • What one simple and captivating phrase will describe aviation’s reason for being in your world?

When you come to grips with these questions, and articulate your thoughtful answers in writing, you will have started to define the Vision for your organization. This Vision is what your entire organization will rally around. It’s inspirational and moving, even to the point of evoking an emotional response from everyone in the organization.

The next step is less lofty, yet no less important.

Answer this: “How is our organization going to actualize the Vision? How, in practical terms, are we going to make the Vision a reality?”

Once answered, this becomes the Mission for the organization; one with a time horizon of about a year.

Next, you need to define and articulate the organization’s ValuesThese Values are created by describing the ways in which you’re going to work together and treat one another. Don’t just write down what sounds good, but what is reality.

These Values are the behavioral touchstones for each and every person in the organization. And, importantly, they need to be described in a completely honest and clear way—in simple, direct language. No hedging allowed. If anyone in the organization’s actions are found to be inconsistent with the Values, then they need to be called out and held accountable.

OK. We have defined your organization’s Vision, Mission and Values.

Now, what does successful, adroit leadership look and feel like in the organization? What are the essential Leadership Competencies to which every organizational member should aspire?

Begin by defining five to seven Leadership Competencies in your organization, along with some supporting behaviors for each competency to help aid in the understanding of what these Leadership Competencies will look like “in action.”

And remember, everyone in your organization needs to be a true leader.

Establish the Foundation: The Operating Plan

So, once you have completed defining these four pillars (Vision, Mission, Values and Leadership Competencies), you will have established the foundation your organization needs to be effective.

Your final step will be to define the Operating Plan with a 12- to 18-month horizon. We aren’t talking about the day-to-day minutiae of operations, but rather the “big rocks” that describes the essential accomplishments supporting the Mission—and contribute to actualizing the organization’s Vision—in the relatively near term.

Since YOU probably are a practical person, you are likely thinking, “Sounds great to me, but how do we actually do all of this?”

You and your Leadership Team, working together as a group at an off-site location physically removed from the organization’s main worksite, can accomplish this very hard work.

Let there be no doubt, these sessions need to be facilitated by an independent but highly knowledgeable and experienced resource professional using a very disciplined, structured process.

(In Gray Stone Advisors’ 20 years of practice, we are yet to see a highly successful outcome of this intensive sort of introspection without relying on the resources of an external facilitation individual or company.)

One of the most rewarding by-products of this process that you will notice is the “coming together” of the individuals on the Leadership Team to form a vastly more aligned and “tighter” group.

Conversely, if there are discordant attitudes and/or beliefs harbored by certain Leadership Team members, the process will help identify them so that can be surfaced quickly. Discord and alignment are polar opposites, and those differences must be resolved promptly.

At the conclusion of this introspective process, the organizational direction must be clearly articulated and completely endorsed by everyone.


Defining “The Way Forward”

At Gray Stone Advisors, we’ve facilitated many of the sessions over the last two decades using a very successful, highly refined process that we call The Way Forward.

In many instances, this has been the first major step in the Transformational Process for organizations wishing to go to “the next level of excellence,” as well as for those floundering in interpersonal discord and lacking clear direction.


Next Step

Is it time for you and your organization to get clear on where you are going and why? Just give us a call when you would like to explore The Way Forward™ for your organization.