What if I told you the biggest problem in your business isn’t what you think it is?
A man—let’s call him Aaron—came to us with a hiring problem. He just couldn’t find the right person to fill an important position in his business. If you’ve been in business for long, you can probably feel his pain.
As we began to unpack Aaron’s problem, it became clear that he didn’t have a hiring problem. He had a vision problem. He hadn’t articulated to himself or his team what exactly he was looking for in the person he intended to fill the position.
His problem wasn’t that he couldn’t find the right match. His problem was that he didn’t know what the “right match” would even look like. And neither did anyone else.
Most business leaders are born problem solvers. There is no shortage of problems in business. But if we’re not careful, we misdiagnose most of them.
We think we have a problem with hiring, delegation, project management, or client experience. But we don’t. We have to look further upstream. Inevitably, we have a problem with vision, alignment, or execution.
These three elements compose the Full Focus System. These core concepts are behind the tools in our Full Focus Planner, like SMARTER Goals®, the Weekly Preview, and the Daily Big 3. They’re also the elements that can help you course-correct any issue in business that you encounter.
Let’s take a closer look at each element in turn.
Vision: Deciding What to Do
Every journey starts with getting clear on the destination. You need a vision for the long-range trajectory of your life. You need a vision for the three-year future of your business. And you need a vision for the project you want completed next week.
At the most basic level, vision is an ability to define and articulate something that doesn’t exist yet. And it’s core to a leader’s job. Leading requires sketching for your team a future they can’t yet see.
What makes a quality trustee? How will you know when a project has been successful? Why is quality customer experience so important, and what does that look like at your company? How will you onboard new people into your company? These are questions of vision.
Alignment: Organizing to Do It
Alignment is about getting on the same page. It’s an exercise in clarity. We get in trouble when we expect other people to read our minds.
Imagine you’re building or renovating your home. You’re probably not doing it yourself. You’ve hired someone. Before you let them pick up a hammer or even order supplies, you would sit down to discuss the finished product. Construction wouldn’t begin until everyone shared a clear vision.
Misalignment results from failures in communication. We’ve offered incomplete information. We’ve given instructions in passing. We’ve failed to set clear expectations or timelines. Or we haven’t involved key stakeholders at the right time.
The importance of alignment grows with the size of your team. The bigger the team, the easier it is to become misaligned. Remember to practice cascading communication. And don’t confuse alignment and agreement.
Most leaders pursue agreement. But consensus can be tyrannical. You become held hostage by the least agreeable person in the room. Alignment doesn’t require agreement. It requires trust. It requires making others feel heard. It requires your people being willing to stand behind your decision, even if it’s not the decision they would have made.
The best way to create alignment is to ask for it explicitly. Try something like: “I’ve heard what you have to say, and you’ve made some strong points. But I’ve made a different decision. I know you disagree, but can you align behind my decision?” Asking the question takes courage, but your team is probably more ready to align than you think.
Execution: Getting It Done
Once you’ve created a vision and achieved alignment, execution is straightforward. Now, your team simply needs to act on the priorities you’ve set.
Accountability is at the center of effective execution. Tools like the Daily Big 3 and Weekly Big 3 are helpful for self-accountability. So are one-on-one meetings. We integrate this idea into weekly team meetings, sharing updates on last week’s commitments at the top of the meeting and ending by making commitments for the upcoming week.
If you’ve addressed each of these elements and your team’s execution still falls short, you probably have someone in the wrong position. In that case, do the kind thing and release them into their next opportunity.
Don’t waste time solving the wrong problems. Clarify your vision. Align your team. And hold them accountable for effective execution. Then, you’ll be well on your way to success.
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