Once a tangible business goal is set for a team and an enterprise, it’s a natural tendency for leadership to jump right into the business of hitting it – in other words, massing the effort and “push” needed to achieve what biz book author Jim Collins called the “Flywheel Effect“ (in one of my all-time fav business books, “Good to Great”).
I’ve always liked the flywheel analogy, because it’s a great representation of how a business successfully gets from Point A to Point B. The thing about a flywheel is that it takes a LOT of effort to get it going – you push, and you push, and you push. Then, it becomes a little easier to turn it. And finally, it starts to generate momentum all on its own, and suddenly, what once took so much effort becomes effortless, self-sustaining, and, dare I say it – fun.
You’re “in the groove”.
We all intuitively understand this concept, whether we picture a flywheel or not – how we start a goal-hitting process is critically important.
Because of this understanding, we often just want to hit the “go” button and start pushing, immediately focusing on execution. That is, getting your team to start “doing” their assigned tasks, all the way down the line.
But there is another element that should be considered – something that, if done at the outset, will provide a lot of “grease” to help the flywheel get up to cruising speed a heck of a lot faster.
It involves the essence of good leadership, and related to the 3rd core principle of my 8 Principles of More Human Leadership – in fact, it’s inspired by the very definition of the word “leader”: Showing The Way
It’s the leader showing the way to Total Enterprise Alignment:
- Connecting the goals with the values of the business
- Distilling that connection into a simple message
- Pushing that message down to EVERY person
- Reinforcing the message, relentlessly
Here’s another way to look at it:
Going from just “do this” to “do this, here’s why, and here’s what’s in it for you“
Imagine the “grease” effect of everyone knowing what the main goals are, how they are connected with the core values of the business, and how the achievement of those goals will positively effect them, well beyond their paycheck.
That’s the definition of Total Enterprise Alignment. And the Flywheel Effect will be so much easier to achieve.
But here’s the kicker – it takes time to “inject” the grease. And time is valuable. So even if you just KNEW this process needed to be done, you still might not do it, and then you’ll rationalize it out loud:
“I don’t have enough time to focus on the ‘soft’ stuff”
“You know, we’ll just have to do that later, so let’s push ahead now”
“Time to go, go, go go – or else”
Don’t succumb to this strong temptation. The grease is worth your time. It is worth the extra effort. The time you spend now will be paid back to you many times over, when the flywheel is moving effortlessly much faster than anyone thought, and those goals that seemed so hard to get are being hit, surpassed, and re-set again.
And you are having the time of your life, all because you decided to lead, instead of just manage.
This was a valuable lesson for me, and I can tell you from first-hand experience, it really does make a difference.