Successful people, model themselves after successful people. You want to be a good leader? Find a leader that exemplifies what you believe are key characteristics, qualities, skills and abilities that you need and write them down. That is only the beginning. Watch them, the way they handle situations, people, projects and as much as you can see, their very life. “Take the meat and spit out the bones.” Take from them what will help you, and include in your developing blueprint for your life… as a leader.
What in the world is a blueprint? And why is it so important for you to have one? A blueprint is a design plan, or a model. Builders use them to ensure that what they are building is exactly what the “economic buyer”, that’s you – wants as a finished project. That’s a simple definition. No rocket science needed. Do you have one for yourself? For your team? For your organization? A blueprint for life and leadership is what each one of us needs if we plan to be successful. I know you remember the old adage, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It applies here too, for your life and leadership!
Imagine you want to build your dream oceanfront home in San Diego, California. You own two acres of a lot free and clear right on the ocean. Money is no object. You have it in the bank. You’ve selected an excellent architect and excellent contractor. And they are ready to meet with you and discuss the project. At your first development team meeting, you get asked the critical questions: “What do you want? What would make this oceanfront home perfect for you and your family?” You don’t have an answer for these questions.
You can’t see the finished house at this early stage. You figure you’ll get started and see where the project goes. Wrong answer! Without some input from you, the architect can’t put pen to paper and see what you see and the contractor shouldn’t begin building. Much like my scenario we need to have a blueprint for our life as a leader and we should ensure that every person on our team has a blueprint, at least as it pertains to what they do in the organization and where they are trying to go. Especially high-performance people. It is critical that you are clear about what they need to continue to develop and they should understand that they can’t make it to the next level without a clear plan.
Let me say it differently. You need a map. You need a destination that you can compare with your starting point. What is it that you must develop in order to be a strong, respected and credible leader in your organization? What does that person look like? What are your strengths? What do you need to continue to do? What do you need to stop doing? What are your gaps? Areas of growth opportunity? All of this can be included in your blueprint.
Last week, I introduced a series I will be writing called “Under Construction”. For some reason, that phrase has provoked much thought on why we don’t accomplish what we think we should accomplish. Why aren’t we always successful as leaders? What gets in the way of success? Sometimes we fall short of the finished line and we beat ourselves up for not getting the promotion. We beat ourselves up for getting a demotion or we lose a good opportunity – we get fired. How does that happen to someone that came in with guns blazing? No plan for success. No plan to grow. No plan for succession. No plan for our people. No plan… you finish the sentence.
Ultimately our blueprint for life and leadership comes down to us making a commitment “to write the vision and make it plain that men might run with it.” I will write more on this topic as I continue to develop this series on “Under Construction“. Remember to “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are like children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napolean Hill