Friday, March 16, 2012

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell-3

To re-iterate from the previous weeks, even if you follow the blog, I greatly encourage you to purchase the book. John Maxwell is a very prolific writer on the topic of leadership. He knows what he is talking about and my musings here will only scratch the surface. This can be found at

The Law of Navigation
John Maxwell opens this chapter with a statement that rings true: Nearly anyone can steer the ship; but it takes a leader to chart the course. Now, I did post a picture for land navigation, but the statement is no less true. Hey, I'm a former Army Officer, deal with it!

People think that charting a course means vision. One of the things we constantly hear people talk about is vision. It is the easy, go to answer for many "leadership experts" But most people's definition of vision isn't enough. A vision is as bad, if not worse than an "idea." In today's society, Vision is used as a filler when somebody has a grand concept, but isn't flushed out.  There is no plan, and no idea on how to accomplish this vision;  but if I yell about it loud enough, people will think I am smart and may follow me. In fact, today a vision is almost as bad as a Mission Statement. If you try to give your team a vision it will probably end up in a notebook and quickly forgotten. That is one of the reasons why I chose the first "C": CONCEIVE.

Instead, a leader Conceives of not only the end point, but the route to get there. he charts the course. That's right, it's about planning. Once it's charted the team can follow it. In fact, if you have a great team, they can even improve it, help the leader identify obstacles, hazards or even better routes. But the leader needs to do the initial plotting. Without that, the team doesn't know how to get from point A to point B (or even what point B is), and that leaves so many teams floundering in water without a boat and sharks circling (as a nod to the people who listened to my presentations this week). 

However, I want to point out that the leader needs to be with the team during the journey as well. Otherwise, when the team does hit an obstacle, or gets turned around, someone is there to point them in the right direction again. I recall a lot of US Army Land Navigation exercises with whole teams of new cadets and/or Privates lost in the woods, mere feet from the objective on their map; but lost because they couldn't see it, and didn't have a leader (or the confidence in their own skills) to assess the situation and find it. And unfortunately, that is one of the more sedate examples that I have for lack of planning and leadership.

As with so many of Maxwell's lessons, this blog entry is only scratching the surface. I've only mentioned the first part of it. He has exercises, and acronyms that assist in a lot of this, and as I've stated several times over, I can't give you all the secrets here (I don't want to be up half the night). Just remember, in the long run Conceiving an idea means PLANNING.

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