- Get crystal clear on your assignment to serve others—customers, investors, partners, and teammates—rather than self.
- Clarify your Great Purpose and values.
- Build real relationships with your team.
- Remove distractions.
- Create short-term wins that lift the spirits of everybody.
- Throw a party to showcase your team’s Q1 efforts and raise their expectations for where the organization is going next.
Quarter 2: Strengthen Connections & Develop Strategic Plan
The engine on the front of the train—like the Serving Leader that you are becoming—exerts a tremendous pull on the rest of the train. It enables your organization to undertake an important journey so that a supply chain of valuable goods and services can be delivered down the track. For that engine to exercise full power, coupling linkages between itself and the rest of the train must be very strong.
In the first quarter, you established those connections. In the second quarter, you need to strengthen them through consistency and repetition of the very activities you undertook in the first quarter—with the addition of one strategic element, which I will describe in a moment. Your consistency and repetition will anchor your people to your leadership, turning those couplings into an ironclad bond and covenant, and will prepare your organization for the work that lies ahead.
The new thing you will do in your second quarter is lay out an inspiring and aggressive one-year, three-year, and five-year strategic plan. This exercise is critical to clarify your organizational mission with goals and objectives that you intend to see accomplished.
On Day Zero, you answered the “Why?” question. This is your Great Purpose or vision for the company. You also answered the “How?” question, which are your non-negotiable behavioral codes that you and your organization will follow. In the second quarter, you will answer the “What?” question, which is your mission. In other words, what is the story and “mission accomplished” that you want to tell about your organization in five years?
It is your job to lead this mission and strategic planning work, but keep in mind this should be a collaborative effort. Select individuals and teams to work on parts of the overall mission and plan so that everybody rolls up their sleeves to flesh out in detail what you provide to them in broad strokes. Your leadership should be collaborative and facilitative. Keep a vivid picture of the mission in front of everybody and stand beside and behind them to encourage and challenge their efforts to fill it out, improve it, and plan for its implementation.
At the end of the second quarter, throw another party similar to the celebration at the end of the first quarter, but include a presentation that you and your team will make on the mission, strategy, and goals that you have laid out together.
A core element of a deeply engaged workplace is confidence that the work has a solid chance for success. Serving Leaders serve people, to be sure, but they also understand that a human being is not well served when they are not enlisted into a cause—a mission—that is worthy of their service.
Quarter 3: Evaluate & Adjust
You know the drill. Relate to your people. Listen to them and appreciate them—love them, in short—and continuously secure your bond with them. Eliminate any areas of unnecessary difficulty they are facing and remove the obstacles that are getting in their way. Demonstrate that you are appreciative of their hard work and are looking for ways to make it easier. Score small wins and celebrate them.
And, as you did in the second quarter, track the progress of your teams in their pursuit of the strategic goals. Keep them connected to one another and maintain a clear sight line of the organization’s Great Purpose and mission, so that you can keep people and teams on track.
Your third-quarter is the first cycle of the rest of your leadership. During this time, include a process to evaluate and adjust your strategic plan, based on learning, opportunity, and new information.
At the end of the third quarter, you guessed it, throw another party! You have now normalized the cadence of organizational life under your leadership. Report on progress against your mission and celebrate it. Candidly put forth lessons that were learned and corrections that must be made. Learning—and even failure—is to be expected in the pursuit of an important mission. Also, communicate priorities and a timeline for your next quarter.
Look back with appreciation, honor, and joy. Look forward with timely and relevant marching orders that have been identified from across the organization. And show your confidence in the capacity of your people to aim for the Great Purpose and near-term mission which you continually keep in front of them and ask them to serve.
Beyond the First 100 Days
Your fourth quarter will repeat your third, preparing you to wrap up your first year, and to solidify the planning, learning, and executing loops that you and your team will vigorously uphold going forward.
A Serving Leader always remembers that there’s purpose, mission, values, and a core identity to serve. Your leadership is not about you, but rather about purposes bigger than yourself. Because this is true, always find your way back onto the path you are pursuing. You can’t afford to get lost in difficulties, disappointments, or distractions.
John Stahl-Wert is a best selling author, inspirational speaker, and an expert at growing great leaders. As President of Newton Institute, his focus is inspiring and equipping leaders to awaken, align, and acheive Great Purpose by embracing the principles of Serving Leadership. Learn more at www.newtoninstitute.com
Photo by Nathan Anderson (unsplash.com)