Every great leader knows that they must invest time to learn as much as possible, from both their mistakes, challenges and successes. This knowledge will serve them in the present and assist them to plot the best possible course for the future. When plotting any course, all great leaders need to consider two important criteria. They must firstly look inward and draw on all the experience they have gleaned over the years and secondly, they must also look outward, to explore the prevailing conditions, to see how these may affect their progress now and in the future.

When looking inward and drawing on all their experience, they must use all their past successes, failures and challenges, as means to build a strong starting point and to serve as the foundation for the direction they will travel in. As they look outward examining the prevailing conditions; they must take the blinkers off and thoroughly explore the prevailing condition, looking around to identify any obstacles, challenges or roadblocks.

Attempting to move in a new direction, without exploring the prevailing external conditions, would be like the captain of a ship setting sail against the tide, because he did not bother to look at the tide chart or sailing into a hurricane because he did not bother to check the weather report. All great leaders invest time before they start to move their team in a new direction, to count the possible cost of moving in any new direction. This external assessment would include measurable factors such as resources, talent and finances and intangibles such as moral, culture, timing and momentum.

When plotting any new course, any wise leader will know that, no matter how much they have learnt from the past, they will still never have all the answers. That is why any great leader who wants to change course, must get information from as many sources as possible. Open your mind and look around you, the information you need is available everywhere. I have found the best place to start exploring is with the people and circumstances closest to you.

•Your team leaders and members are an incredible source of information, as they are closer to the grindstone than you are and thus better equipped to see any changes or trends in the market place.
•Look at other leaders in similar markets and businesses and see what they are doing. Do not be scared to ask these people to mentor you. It is astounding how many people would be willing to support you, if you can find a way to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them. The law of reciprocity, where you would do something noteworthy for someone else and they in return, would be more than willing to assist you is a perfect example of the law of reciprocity at work. As long as there is fair exchange almost everyone is willing to help.
•Great leaders know that they cannot succeed alone and that they must build a team of supportive followers, mentors and fellow leaders around them in order to reach their maximum potential.

As you plot any new course it is crucial to ensure that your planning must include both a level of belief and fact. You must have faith and believe in the ability of both yourself and your team to overcome the inevitable challenges and at the same time you must have as many facts as possible to ensure you are not blundering blindly into something you won’t be able to handle. As a great leader you must believe in your ability to take your team all the way and must be able to create a crystal clear vision in your mind of exactly where you want to go. If you are unable to first visualise the journey in your mind and create a vision for yourself and your team, you will most certainly not be able to achieve anything in real life.

Communicate your vision to your team and keep your eye on the prize, but be careful not to minimize obstacles or rationalise challenges. You must always have your eyes wide open and be aware of everything in your environment, be vigilant and be careful not to be blindsided, because you were not observing. Jim Collins said it so well in his book, GOOD TO GREAT, when he described the Stockdale Paradox. He wrote “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end and you must also confront the most brutal facts of your current reality”

Succeeding as a great leader is a balancing act between optimism, realism, planning, faith, fact and intuition. Keep all these factors in mind as you plot any new course and follow this simple formula for success:

•Get a crystal clear picture in your mind of exactly where you want to go
•Develop goals to support this vision
•Prioritise and ensure that you and your team are taking only the most important actions every day
•Communicate your vision and goals to all stakeholders. Ensure that everyone knows their individual role in delivering on the vision and goals.
•Allow time for acceptance and give all team members the opportunity to offer consistent feedback.
•Pull the trigger and lead from the front as you and your team begin to take action
•Plan for and expect challenges. They are inevitable and an integral part of any success journey.
•Offer encouragement, support and praise for all team members
•Review progress daily.

To become a truly great leader and to successfully lead your team in these ever changing times, you must overcome your fear of change, eliminate ignorance about what is going on all around you and become more certain about your abilities. Pull the trigger today and use your present to build that crystal clear picture you have created in your mind. This vision you have created for your future is achievable, if you and your team take inspired action every day and you consistently measure your progress. The success you and your team will enjoy is not dependant on the size of the project, but rather on the size of the leader you become.


Author's Bio: 

Andrew is an expert and master teacher that speaks and teaches self-leadership, expanded awareness, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. He guides individuals and business professionals, to identify, prioritise and carry out the right activities, consistently, so that they can maximise their personal effectiveness and deliver their best; on time, every time. All the tools and techniques Andrew teaches; have been tested in the laboratory of his own life and the many successful businesses he has owned and led, over the past 20 years. These strategies have seen Andrew achieve financial independence and reach a point of harmonious balance in all areas of his life. His purpose is to help as many people as possible, achieve similar or better results and to show them how they can realise their full potential, both personal and professionally and to help them live a meaningful life, where they are fulfilled in all areas. http://www.andrewhorton.co.za