Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Leadership and Strategic Process

Volume: December 2012

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Years ago I was in the audience of a Liz Story concert. She is a cool jazz pianist who has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards. In the middle of one of her songs she stopped, slowly turned to the audience and said: “You know, in quantum physics, if you know where you’re going you have no idea where you are….and if you know where you are, you have no idea where you are going…..life is a lot like that.” I appreciate Liz Story. And you know, she brings up a good point for leaders to consider: We need to understand where our organizations have been, how we got to our current position, where our organizations are headed, and why exactly we want to go there. So let us wax strategic as we usher in the end of 2012, and as a result, set the stage for a kick-butt (official consulting term) 2013. We begin with a hot topic these days, “a vision for the future.”


  1. Vision. Leaders who provide a clear vision to their teams create a climate that can maximize performance. Note that I did not say “a rosy vision.” I simply said vision. Good, bad, or indifferent, people want to know where they are going: in their careers, in life, on the motorway. As such, it is the leader’s job to communicate that vision to team members. When you communicate your vision to your team, remember to do so in a succinct, understandable fashion. 
  2. Priorities. Once the future is clear, priorities can be set. Many of you are familiar with Leadership Simplified’s Priority Communication Tool (PCT). Use the PCT or your priority management system of choice in order to help your team focus on what will be accomplished during the upcoming year. On a monthly basis, update your priority communication tool so as to maintain clarity regarding the big rocks in your team’s world. 
  3. Goals. Good leaders set meaningful goals. You know, SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. As much as possible, engage your team in goal-setting. Also, pay special attention to ensure that individual goals align with team goals, and that team goals are consistent with organizational priorities. Think about it like a chiropractic adjustment for the organization. If everything is in proper alignment, comfort will be experienced.
  4. Action Planning. Goals come to life when the tasks that accomplish goals are properly planned. An action plan calls for tasks to be listed in such a fashion that each task has an owner. The owner of a task takes responsibility for the proper completion of the task. Along the way, a specific timeframe for completing the task should be noted. Lastly, the items listed on an action plan should be measured in some way. If a quantifiable measure cannot be determined, simply use “pass / fail.” Remember that a well-structured action plan is a great follow-up tool for leaders, and a terrific accountability tool for team members.
  5. Execution. I heard the CEO of Masonite once say that execution is the delivery of our promises. Make your team’s execution shine by delivering on your promises within the designated timeframe. Time management tools such as day planning, coupled with smart action plans and logical priorities can pave the way for solid execution and meaningful results.

Bottom Line: Smart leaders realize that team members follow people who articulate a clear vision of the future. Further, once team members know where they are headed it becomes easier to set priorities and agree on goals. Leaders can then assist team members with well-orchestrated action plans. All this culminates in meaningful results. Voila! Oh, and do not forget to make a quantum leap along the way and listen to a little Liz Story.



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Please do so, as long as you do not alter the content or embedded links. Also, please include the following information: Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based leadership and collaboration consultant, executive coach, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching and consulting services, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com. 

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