“A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.”— George Patton

Several times over the last few weeks I’ve had conversations about leadership with friends, colleagues, clients and family.  Wikipedia describes leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.  Nothing in that definition explains “how” this accomplished.

Since it now officially summer, my thoughts drift to vacations and the family car.  As a child, we knew who was the leader of the trip, that was Dad, the CEO – he could drive anywhere and never got lost.  With Trip-Tiks from AAA, he taught me to read maps and find adventure, a skill I’ve passed on to my kids.  Mom was most definitely the HR department with snacks, wet-ones, sing-alongs, books, license plate bingo and forced nap time!  Like a true military operation, Dad planned with HR input and we all had a vision.  One time, we took off for six weeks with a station wagon, travel trailer from Midland Michigan to Nova Scotia via Canada and return via Maine.   Of course the unplanned for happened, the “thing that holds the trailer to the car” broke in Riviere-Du-Loup, Quebec.  The language there was French, only French, and this was way before iPhones and language apps.  The CEO knew no French, but the HR director had been prepared with a French/English dictionary and a basic college level understanding of French.  For the rest of us, it was just another adventure!  I do remember some tense times, but in the end, we were back on the road in 3 days. Leadership kept us informed, safe and on-track.

My Dad, a school principal by trade, practiced these traits of leadership by:

  • Drawing a Vision – where will we be in 3, 5 or 10 years or just one vacation? What will it look like?  How will the team participate?
  • Committing to the Position – where are we now – our values, principals, strongly held beliefs, those values that are the bedrock of our business.
  • Verbalizing our Mission or Credo – the short sentence of what  we are doing that is repeatable and believable by all, even the 8 year old in the back seat!

Leaders, as George Patton describes, will not always know all the information or answers to make decisions or anticipate all outcomes. They will take action and how they communicate their leadership will show by who follows and for how long.

Enjoy your summer vacations.