Best Next Steps

By Lori Michele Leavitt

Guest Writer

This post originally appeared on Collaborative Action and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.


This first post in the Extraordinary Momentum series offers five key ideas to help you get clear about best next steps, and how you can help others get clear about their best next steps.

When you are nimble, you are aware and open. You rarely get blocked or stuck. If you do — if someone, something or even your own mindset or limiting beliefs — get in your way, you have what it takes to move around, over, under, through.

• Let’s talk about being nimble — in business, career, life — it’s so possible!

• What is it that you really want? It is so possible.

• What if you are in a large team or leading many people? There are many people, not just you, who may need to change. It may seem impossible. This is just how things are. And yet, I say to you, that performance breakthrough that is achieved only through many people is so possible!

This series is about extraordinary momentum. You’ll read about real people that became nimble, prepared for and orchestrated The Pivot, and created a culture of alignment and momentum (aka, aligned momentum), which made performance breakthroughs possible. I’ll also guide you in breaking down a long-term vision into best next steps.

As promised, here are the five key ideas to help you get clear about best next steps, and how you can help others get clear about their best next steps:

#1. Frame your intended destination into a “from ___ to ____” statement.

For example, “We intend to become more innovative. That is, we shall move from waiting for financial statements to see if doing what we’ve always done is working (or not) to being a nimble — aware and open — organization that innovates to stay ahead of the competition.”

#2. Create a theme around the strategic direction.

For example:

• To break down silos as the direction needed to return Ford to profitability, CEO Alan Mulally created a theme (also the name of his 10-year plan): “One Ford”

• To reinvigorate the British people for a win during World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill created a theme: “Victory!”

• To become number one in the frozen fish market (from number three), Dan Barnett, President of Van de Kamp’s, created a theme: “Fresh!”

• To move from a culture of blame to one of collaboration, L. David Marquet, commanding officer of the USS Sante Fe, created a theme: “There’s no they on the Sante Fe.”

#3. Clearly communicate.

As a leader, your role is to clearly communicate vision, values, purpose, strategic direction (strategy) in a way that allows others to understand their role in executing this strategy. Commanding and selling are short-term motivators; they aren’t going to work to create a culture with aligned momentum, that is nimble and where performance breakthroughs are possible. You are aiming to inspire others by understanding how to align what they want for themselves with what the business needs from them in their role.

#4. Continuously build and nurture a safe, empowered workplace…

…where everyone knows that their manager has their back and wants them to be successful. You will gain clarity throughout the workplace if everyone is open and willing to give and receive input.

#5. Define what progress and success will look like, create measures and track them.

You get what you measure. Even someone inspired by the strategic direction and how they see their role in it can go off track, thinking they are clear without actually being clear. Measurement that weaves performance into a personal-success-focused conversation can bring phenomenal results, almost like magic (because you, the leader, are also not spending so much time trying to motivate and seek buy-in to your directives).

With these five key ideas, you’ll gain momentum and turn vision into possibility and reality.

Check back next week for part two of Lori’s series, where she asks the question, “Who Executes Strategy?”


About the Author

Lori Michele Leavitt infuses nimble practices into grownup companies, and helps fast-growth startups grow into the larger business with a culture they thrive in. This translates into work environments that are collaborative, innovative, engaged and value-focused.

Lori brings her passion and action-oriented methods to life through speaking, consulting, coaching and technology. She specializes in performance and risk management, and has worked with hundreds of leaders and their organizations.

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