Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Basic map making.

Leaders must be able to create maps for their teams.  They must establish objectives, a purpose for moving toward the objectives, a direction which the group will follow, and motivation to take the first crucial steps.  In short, leaders must become competent map makers to ensure his or her team know where they are and where they are going. They have considered the obstacles of the journey, and they are ready and able to deal with unexpected challenges along the way.  

United States Army Ranger school is a Leadership course.  The school like many in the military create a stressful environment to test the students competence and confidence in completing a defined task.  Given the need for quality leaders, the Ranger course serves as a finishing school for junior leaders by pushing them to the limits of physical and mental endurance and then testing their ability to lead others.  The idea being - like New York - if you can make it there - you can make it anywhere.

The course was and is filled with many challenges; one of these challenges focused upon leaders and perspective leaders the importance of constantly knowing their precise location.  Ranger Instructors had the nasty habit of waking an exhausted student during the middle of the night then calmly pulling a map from his pocket and posing three dreaded questions.

Where are you Ranger?

Where is the last rally point?

Where is the objective?

For Ranger students - they always had to know where they were located, where to retreat to in case the patrol was attacked, and where the patrol was headed to complete the assigned mission.  Given that Ranger students were all expected to be able to take command at any moment - knowing their mission and location were the first steps in assuming command.  Successful students learned to study maps before and during the mission; associate the key terrain features in relationship to the objectives; monitor the direction of march and the distance the patrol traveled through a pace count.  Each perspective leader created a map in his head to be able to keep track of the patrol's position in case they were called to lead.  They had to create a mental map and communicate the current plan and any number of contingency plans based upon the position of the patrol.

We all have our own "patrols" we are leading today.  Our team is counting on us as leaders to precisely understand where we are, where we are going, and what we would do in case of opportunity or emergency.

For practice try this exercise.

Imagine one of your leadership positions. It could be your work team, family, community service, a key relationship - any of these situations will work as long as it is important to you.

Next - create a map.

Start with where you are today.  Mark your current position on your map in a manner that is comfortable for you - descriptive words, paragraphs of explanations, analogies, pictures - use your imagination.  This is your starting point.

Next Create a destination - again utilizing methods comfortable for you.  Make the destination a concrete destination; you want to know when you get there.  Your destination should be a definitive location or a measurable result. 

Between your starting point and your destination - place obstacles that could hamper your progress and opportunities that could help accelerate your journey.  Also note ideas for resources necessary for success.  Imagine what you would need to complete your journey: who would you need? what would you need to succeed? how much time would it take?  how would you deal with the obstacles along the way? how could you cause opportunities? what would it feel like to finish?  what would change for you?  what would change for your team?  what impact would your results have on a larger community?

Next - share your map with someone important to you.  Get critical feedback from someone you trust.  Ask them to be candid.  Make additions and adjustments if necessary based upon the observations of your adviser.

Finally, share your map with your team.  Let them know you know where you are, you know where you want to go, and you have considered the journey carefully.  Let them see and feel what you see and what you feel.  Your map will inspire new thoughts, ideas, questions, concerns - all which need to be considered to align your team.  Your map will serve as the foundation for alignment and commitment.

I promise more people will follow you if they understand you have mapped out the journey with foresight and care.






No comments:

Post a Comment