As I thought about leaders in my life, both good leaders and poor leaders, I realized that there are two things that leaders must do well – especially if they are leading other leaders. In fact, when leaders fail to do both of these two things well, they will lose those whom they are leading.
As a leader, I will follow a leader who:
- SETS clear DIRECTION
- MOVES people FORWARD in that direction
Leaders must know where they are going and communicate where they are headed. They don’t need to know or communicate all the details of how they are going to get there – most good leaders figure it out, make it up, or gather others with them to collaborate how to get there. No matter what, leaders set the direction and compel others to follow.
Leaders must move others forward in the direction that they’ve set. If leaders fail to initiate movement towards the determined direction, they have failed as a leader. Leaders don’t just set direction; they also effectively move people forward to get there.
Recently I visited the Museum of Flight in Seattle with my brothers-in-law. It was fascinating to explore the past 110 years of flight development. We tried flight simulators, sat in cockpits, walked through a portion of the space station, and examined a variety of planes.
We even boarded the last Concorde flown and the Air Force One jet used by President Kennedy.
One of the exhibits that caught my attention included a video of President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University as he spoke of sending men to the moon.
President John F. Kennedy:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others too.”
Kennedy’s leadership provided both DIRECTION and MOVEMENT. He initiated an army of leaders and scientists to reach beyond their current reality to achieve something that had never been accomplished – they sent men to the moon.
Leaders must do these two things well:
Setting Direction & Moving Forward!