The art and science of influencing others to willingly follow you.
Leadership is more than influence. Influence without will leads to things being partially completed or poorly complete leading to even more problems. The real challenge of a leader is to inspire people to want to accomplish goals.
“You must guard constantly against those who lack vision. You must guard against the reactionary mind. Always cultivate and associate with persons of vision and with persons who believe that things are going to be better. When you do this, you take on the kind of vision, backed by the right kind of inspiration that you need if you are going to grow . . . .” Thomas Watson, Sr., 1874-1956, chairman and CEO of International Business Machines (IBM)
Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.
As defined in Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22, Army Leadership August 2012
Without a clear understanding of what the boss wants, organizations will inevitably fail to achieve it. Without the gift of mind reading, success depends on the boss clearly communicating what he wants. This holds true regardless of the nature of the organizations, its size or purpose. Church leaders, business executives, managers, and heads of families could take a lesson from an enterprise that literally depends on communicating intent to save lives.
The military understands that the absence of a clear understanding of the commander’s intent, for any given operation, could result in the unnecessary death of people. The U.S. Army’s manual on the operations process emphasizes this by connecting the commander’s intent to everything about an operation including how the staff plans operations, the disciplined initiative of subordinate commanders when the plan changes, and the level of risk that is appropriate to achieve the ends state.
The commander’s intent is a clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command, provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desired results without further orders, even when the operation does not unfold as planned (ARDP 5-0, Pg 1-5 )
Several principles govern the creation of intent:
- Commanders (substitute any leader as necessary) must have a vision (end state)
- Commanders must create and communicate intent by describing the components of their vision on their own. I have been in too many planning meetings where the boss asks the staff to come up with the intent; this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated.
- The intent must be concise and easy to remember, the shorter the better.
- The intent should be understood two levels below the commander. In Army terms, a brigade commander will frame intent so that a company commander understands it.
- Intent will provide the framework for action, shared understanding and focus until the end state is achieved
“The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”— Theodore Hesburgh
With these principles in place, a commander can frame their intent using three components: Expanded purpose statement, list of key tasks, and statement of end state
- Expanded Purpose. The Army communicates purpose, or why an action is taken, in the mission statement of an operation order. The expanded purpose gives the context beyond why an action is planned by addressing the strategic implications to success and how it affects other parts of the organization.
- Key tasks. A brief list of activities required to achieve the desired end state. Staffs use the key task list to ensure the development of suitable and acceptable plans. When situations changes and significant opportunities present themselves, subordinates use the key tasks to focus their efforts to take initiative and achieve the end state.
- End state. Similar to a vision statement, the end state statement in more descriptive in describing the conditions that will exist when the organization has successfully met the commander’s intent. Write the description of end state in present tense as if everything has been actualized and the organization has achieved the best possible outcome.
- Live a life of undivided integrity
- Always demonstrate a positive attitude
- Consider other people’s interest as more important that your own
- Don’t settle for anything less than excellence
from Chris Widner: The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins With You
Jesus had a plan…and he executed it right on time.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 (NIV)
Short of the divine knowledge Jesus possessed, few of us would be able to deliver exactly on time with as far to travel and as many things to do. Along the way he taught parables, eased Martha to the better choice, confronted demons, expressed woes to the pharisees, healed people, dined with his disciples, and prayed all night before being arrested…right on time.
Granted, the things we do day-to-day don’t have eternal consequences for all of humanity, but why do we seem to always miss deadlines, cram all night to study or finish a project, or flat out miss deadlines? We’ve lost the art of backward planning.
Backward planning is the process of determining the right time to start something by subtracting from the finish point the time required to complete it .
Here’s a simple example: It takes 2 hours to drive to your mothers and you need to be there by 7:00pm. Subtract 2 hours from 7pm and you need to leave at five. WAIT, WAIT…don’t stop reading, it gets better.
What we fail to do is apply this simple concept to more complex projects like the yearly report, your masters degree thesis, or even family panning. Here’s some simple steps to backward plan your next project.
- Determine the finish point
- List all tasks that must be done in order
- Estimate the length of each task
- Subtract each length from the finish point