Friday, January 07, 2005
All aboard for the bus for the future!
Magic mystery tour to the future
Being a leader creating a vision for the future is a bit like being a bus driver.
To develop a shared vision it is important to invite the right people on board the bus and also to ensure the ones who are already on board, that aren’t up to the adventure, get off.
Once you have the right people on board then it is the time to discuss with them where you all want to go. This way, if the destination changes during the journey, as it inevitably will, they will all feel responsibility for the final destination. If you sell them the destination before they get on board the bus that will hold you responsible if things don’t turn out as you described.
And also, if you share the planning then every body’s particular strengths and talents will be able to be used to the mutual benefit of all and all will feel valuable.
Being a bus is an excellent metaphor for a modern leader. The driver takes responsibity for all on board, ensures all can see and provides a running commentary to keep all informed. A wise leader will share the driving with others with driving skill.
The bus trip also a good metaphor for a school principal as it involves a journey through time and space. A good leader keeps an eye on the agreed destination and provides good company and support along the way.
The leader, like the bus driver, strives to make the vision concrete and specific by:
1. Ensuring the destination is always kept in mind. Too often many people have no idea where their organization is going or their role in the change journey.
2. Making use of available maps that show signs that the journey is being achieved and people are not going around in circles. Without ideas of progress others can lose focus or heart
3. Pointing out when milestones have been reached and that these, both major and minor, are celebrated. Too often, unless small achievements are marked, people will get lost reaching for distant stars. Good drivers will plan celebrations along the way as difficulties are surmounted or goals achieved.
4. Communicating with everyone when the path is lost and, during these confusing times, encourage everyone to keep the end point in mind. There are no accurate maps to the future and creative leaders and their teams will chart the way as they go. The best strategy is to have clear intentions and the ability to alter course as required.
5. Provide good cheer and confidence when things get really confusing. Everyone will be aware from the start that it will not be all plain ‘driving’ and the leaders role is vital in times of difficulty is vital.
To be sure navigating organizational change is far more difficult than getting on board a bus. Change is not always a pleasant process as it is by nature disruptive. Few people like to be jolted out of their comfort zone. This is why it is important to attract the right people in the first place but even then people will still change their minds mid journey.
It takes a special kind of person to be an adventurous bus driver but for those with the right ‘drive’ it is an exciting challenge. Helping others achieve a memorable journey takes character and the fortitude to be cheerful even in difficult circumstances. Achieving the final destination makes all the hassles along the way worth it. And all the time there are thoughts of the next adventure.
‘All aboard the bus to the future!’