Everyone has goals; it is the next steps that count. Ask yourself these questions: ‘For those things to happen, what kind of team do we have to become? And how do each of us need to change to make that happen?’ ~ Dr. Henry Cloud quoting a confidential client
I've been reading a lot of Dr. Henry Cloud’s more recent writing lately and this week’s quote was lifted from his book, Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality.
Henry suggests that effective leaders not only see the bigger picture, they also realize that they must focus on the bigger issues, which are bigger than themselves. “The greatest [leaders] are the ones who have not sought greatness, but served greatly the causes, values, and missions that were much bigger than them.” Henry quotes Thomas Merton who said, “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.”
Henry’s client, who I’ve quoted this week, is someone who runs the western United States for one of the big telecommunications companies. He takes his team of direct reports on a retreat every year and they begin with a few questions. The first is, ‘What would we like to see happen in the next year?’ This gets them to their vision, and the goals. In this particular year, their goal was admittedly audacious. They wanted to do so well that the whole company would stop and want to know how they did it. But, then they asked themselves these questions: ‘For those things to happen, what kind of team do we have to become? And how do each of us need to change to make that happen?’
They went to work making shifts in themselves focusing on their audacious goal and they did so well that the CEO flew out to find out what they did that was different than everyone else, and how everyone could learn from it. They achieved their vision!
Henry believes that their vision demanded that these individuals make shifts in their practices to meet the demands of reality. They did not ask reality to shift, but they did the shifting.
If you’ve had a hard time identifying what you truly value, I think this can be a good test to help make that determination. I’ve found that if I believe something is really important or bigger than me (like their audacious goal), I’m much more willing to shift my thinking, or give up getting things my way because I’m so focused on the bigger issue. Ironically, if I’m fighting so hard to have it my way and am unwilling to shift then I’m probably focusing more on myself than I’m willing to admit. And I most likely haven’t asked how I need to change in order to address the bigger issue. As this week’s title states, “Leaders make personal shifts to address the bigger issues.”