I was recently asked to write an analogy about leadership and organizational design for class. I immediately began thinking about the line from Forrest Gump pertaining to a box of chocolates however; further consideration led me to look at it compared to a blueprint for a home.
When we first start our journey as a leader, our blueprint is crude, without depth, definition or detail much like a child had drawn it with a crayon. Not just any crayon mind you, rather the large ones that have only five colors in the box. As we grown in our leadership roles and understanding we no longer focus on the shiny new badge and must learn the inner working of our organization. Now comes a graduation in our design, we start to use colored pencils to add in the details. Just as a home needs electrical, plumbing and other systems to function, we realize that the organization has needs too. We begin to look at how the people interact, the goals that are being set and the motivation that drives everyone. For many of us, this is where our design sits. We never take the time to further understand the intricacies that add to the functionality and overall look of the blueprint. For the most part, someone could look at it and say, “Its a house right?”
The hardest step in the leadership progression comes from years of practice and a greater understanding of what makes a leader a leader. Being able to absorb the principles and theories is not enough to make someone an effective leader. An architect/engineer could understand every math formula in the world and know the perfect combination of form and functionality however, without being able to apply this information to the real world, it is only speculation. Just as the master builders have done over the centuries, great leaders must dedicate themselves to becoming better at applying their experience and knowledge. Taking the knowledge of leadership theory and being able to have the fortitude and integrity to follow it up with action is what will make you great.
To truly progress the quality of our leadership/blueprint, we need to take that next step. This involves in-depth personal analysis and refining our skills. Obtaining knowledge, maintaining proficiency, stepping back to see the larger picture along with a full understanding of how to read people is key to graduating to a fine point pen to draw with. Until we reach this stage, in our leadership proficiency, our blueprint will remain the quality suited for hanging on our parent’s refrigerator. If you are truly serious about being a leader, this will not suffice, you should reach for a museum quality drawing that others will admire. In the end, the overall goal is to have a blue print, etched with laser precision, that anyone can look at and say, “You are a great leader!.”