Thursday, March 19, 2009

Practical Leadership – Clear Direction

One of the key tasks of a leader is to provide clear direction for the path to be followed. Otherwise followers have to guess where they need to contribute their time and effort.

For direction to be clear, it needs to be communicated and kept up-dated in terms that each follower can understand. In today’s complex changing workplaces, with many competing priorities, providing clear direction is fundamental to effective leadership.

Most people want to do a good job and want to make a contribution to their team and organization. But they are often unsure of what is the best use of their time and effort.

Most organizations have Corporate Plans and strategies to achieve corporate goals. But how each organization member needs to contribute to the implementation of these strategies is rarely clear. Usually each person is left to identify their contribution and use their best endeavours to do what they believe needs to be done. This an incredibly inefficient high risk way to work, but unfortunately it is the norm.

The major problem with leaving it to people to work out how they need to contribute, is that in today’s workplaces, people are usually asked to do more work than is physically possible. So they need to decide what they will do, and what will get done if more resources (mainly time) become available.

Consequently there is a high risk that contributions to important strategic tasks will be sidelined by urgent, but less important, tasks. This adds to the likelihood that strategic tasks will not be done due to inadequate direction and accountability.

Without linkages between strategies and the tasks people are doing, senior leaders have no timely way of knowing that tasks required by strategies are not being done. Usually optimistic reporting hides delays until it is too late to catch up (without adversely affecting other initiatives and on-going work).

TASKey has developed methods and web software to keep track of the connections between strategies and the work being done by people throughout an organization. The result is that everyone knows what they need to contribute and reporting can be provided in close to real time.

Web software on standard and mobile web browser makes it easy for everyone to see the ToDo’s that contribute to core strategies. Automatic progress reporting based on work done keeps everyone informed.

Leadership is enhanced by clear direction, and decisions throughout an organization can be made in a way that adds most value. Potential problems are identified early, so proactive adjustments have little effect on other tasks.

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