Have you ever planned a trip to travel abroad? A good friend of mine at work is travelling to Ireland this summer and has spent a tremendous amount of time researching and planning this trip. There are six members of his family going, some flying in and out on different days which makes it a little complicated; there is a lot to coordinate and think about. His mindset as he approaches the trip is value. Not in the sense that he wants to find the cheapest way to travel and stay, although that is certainly part of it, he wants to know what is valuable there and how he can start to use his current resources to ensure he participates in the valuable experiences of his destination. His current resources are his time, his talents, and his financial resources. What can he be buying now to leverage what will be important then? How can he spend his time now, that will enrich his experience then? How can he use his skills in budget management and research to ensure he will find hidden gems, sites to see off the beaten path, that will make lasting memories for his family? The currency there is different, this is an area he is thinking about. Can he start buying their currency now and get it on discount, or should he wait? Planning this trip is a major function of leadership. Planning ahead for what you want your future experience to be like and investing your current resources into the vision for the future is a large component of leading.
Regardless of your seat in the organization, you have a role in determining your organization’s future. You can look today at where you are and where you want to be and start investing your current assets into what will be important in the future. The important thing to think about in this case is of course the future. What does it look like? It is amazing to me how few people take time to draw a picture of what their future looks like. I don’t mean your retirement portfolio, although that is an example. I am thinking business culture here and relationships. What does the future of your leadership team look like? Do they spend time together? Are they collaborative? Do they tell it like it is or rely on “hidden” communication? Do they hold each other accountable? Whatever you envision for your team in the future is important, how else will you know where to invest your current resources.
It is not much different than a strategic plan. We want to grow our business this much by this time doing these things. You then start to look at your assets, determine if borrowing makes sense, and then start investing in that vision. If you have been in business for a while, this is intuitive to a degree. If the number one reason people leave your organization, and these are the same people who carry out the strategic plan, is their relationship with their immediate supervisor, then why isn’t creating a strategic plan for relationships as important as creating a strategic plan for the organization?
What does a relationship strategic plan look like? This is the essence of culture building. Take time to create a vision for what your environment looks like. Take inventory of your current assets. Do you need to borrow any assets? Bring in some resources to help you create this vision, Chris and I can help you there if you would like. Chances are you have creative people on the team, find out your inventory of relational assets. Leverage your current assets and invest in the future of your culture. Not everyone will stay of course, a level of turnover is healthy. People leaving to take on bigger challenges and greater dreams is a testament to your investment in them. People leaving because of relational issues is also a testament to your investment in the culture.
Spend some time with your team this week and talk about what it would take to plan a trip to Europe. You will probably get some great ideas. Pay attention to who says what. These are the same people who can help you develop a relational strategic plan. They will buy in because it is partly their creation. You will have an engaged team who will invest their time, talents, and treasures into creating an environment that will blow away the ideas of your current business strategic plans!